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Patients can prevent Alzheimer’s by modifying nine risk factors, research suggests

Alzheimer’s disease may be preventable by modifying nine key risk factors, a group of scientists has suggested.

A large meta-analysis of worldwide data, aimed at finding the key personal and population health strategies that may help tackle the disease, concluded that these nine risk factors contribute to two-thirds of Alzheimer’s cases worldwide.

Looking at data from more than 300 studies covering 5,000 patients and 93 potential risk factors, University of California San Francisco researchers came up with lists of risk and protective factors playing a key role in determining the development of the disease.

Their paper, published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, listed the top risks as:

  • High levels of homocysteine, an amino acid manufactured in the body
  • Depression
  • Obesity
  • Current smoking
  • Frailty
  • Carotid artery narrowing
  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes (in the Asian population)
  • Low education level

Meanwhile, it found that protective factors include: the female hormone oestrogen, cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins), drugs to lower blood pressure, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), folate, vitamin C and E and coffee.

The paper concluded: ‘This is the first comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis which takes into account almost all risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease suitable to be intervened via personal, clinical and public strategy.

‘The current meta-analysis emphasised the heterogeneity of modifiable risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease and the complexity of its aetiology, and indicated that the effective interventions in diet, medications, biochemical exposures, psychological condition, pre-existing disease and lifestyle may be promising options for preventative strategies. Further good-quality cohort studies and randomised controlled trials targeting these elements are necessary.’



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