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Can Lifestyle Reduce Your Risk of Dementia?

New research reported by the BBC has shown that modifiable lifestyle factors could potentially reduce the risk of developing dementia. The international study was published in the Lancet journal.

Nine Key Factors

Nine key factors were listed along with their percentage ratings for how they might affect an individual. They are:

  1. Mid-life hearing loss - responsible for 9% of the risk
  2. Failing to complete secondary education - 8%
  3. Smoking - 5%
  4. Failing to seek early treatment for depression - 4%
  5. Physical inactivity - 3%
  6. Social isolation - 2%
  7. High blood pressure - 2%
  8. Obesity - 1%
  9. Type 2 diabetes - 1%
Source: BBC

These risk factors total 35% of the risk with the remaining 65% cited as non-modifiable.

Mind GraphicChanges to the Brain

Although dementia is something that develops later in life, the changes in the brain that lead to it are thought to occur earlier. An interesting point from the study is the idea that learning throughout life can help the brain to build a “cognitive reserve”, helping it stave off the disease. Another idea to come from the study is that what’s good for the heart is also good for the brain.

Interestingly, with regard to hearing loss being a risk factor, the reasoning behind this is that it results in a less rich cognitive environment - sometimes leading to social isolation and depression which are other risk factors.

The argument for helpful lifestyle changes in reducing dementia risk appears strong in light of the new evidence.