Study: Healthy lifestyle traits could lower Alzheimer's risk

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A newly published study shows there are lifestyle habits you can employ that could reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.

Research of data published this month in the online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, shows there was a substantially lower risk of the progressive disease in people who adhered to most or all of the specified healthy behaviors.

The findings were announced in a press release from the National Institutes of Health.

“This observational study provides more evidence on how a combination of modifiable behaviors may mitigate Alzheimer’s disease risk,” National Institute on Aging Director Dr. Richard J. Hodes said. “The findings strengthen the association between healthy behaviors and lower risk, and add to the basis for controlled clinical trials to directly test the ability of interventions to slow or prevent development of Alzheimer’s disease.”

In the study, researchers evaluated data from two NIA-funded longitudinal study populations: the Chicago Health and Aging Project (CHAP) and the Memory and Aging Project (MAP).

Participants with available data on their diet, lifestyle factors, genetics and clinical assessments for Alzheimer’s disease were selected.

Researchers scored participants based on five healthy lifestyle factors: physical activity, not smoking, light-to-moderate alcohol consumption, a high-quality diet and cognitive activities.

Then, the team compared the scores with the results of Alzheimer’s diagnosis in the CHAP and MAP participants. Compared to participants with only one healthy lifestyle factor or none at all, the risk of Alzheimer’s was 37% lower in those with two to three factors. People who adhered to four or all five factors were found to have had a 60% lower Alzheimer’s risk.

“This population-based study helps paint the picture of how multiple factors are likely playing parts in Alzheimer’s disease risk,” Dallas Anderson, Ph.D., program director in the Division of Neuroscience at NIA said. “It’s not a clear cause and effect result, but a strong finding because of the dual data sets and combination of modifiable lifestyle factors that appear to lead to risk reduction.”

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