Potentially modifiable risk factors may contribute to up to two thirds of Alzheimer’s disease cases worldwide, suggests an analysis of evidence, published online in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry this week.
Researchers suggest that preventive strategies, targeting diet, drugs, body chemistry, mental health, pre-existing disease, and lifestyle may help to reduce the risk of dementia. Highlighting this could be particularly important as there is no cure for dementia.
They looked for relevant studies published in English from 1968 up to July 2014. Out of almost 17,000 studies, 323, covering 93 different potential risk factors and more than 5000 people, were suitable for inclusion in the analysis. The researchers pooled the data from each of the studies and graded the evidence according to its strength.
Dr James Pickett, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “This study found that over 100 different factors have been linked to an increased or decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease in the past, illustrating the sheer complexity of the condition. The researchers focused only on risk factors that can be modified, such as education, diet and smoking, reinforcing the view that we can all make lifestyle changes to reduce our risk of developing dementia.
“There is no silver bullet for preventing dementia, and this study shows that we still don’t have a clear picture of which risk factors are the most important ones to tackle. As some of the findings in this study contradict previous research, we now need to see significantly more investment into larger scale prevention studies to provide us with robust evidence about the best ways to reduce dementia risk.”