Aug 20, 2015

9 Risk Factors Contribute to Two-Thirds of Alzheimer's Cases Worldwide

Researchers have identified 9 modifiable risk factors that may contribute to up to two thirds of Alzheimer's disease cases worldwide.

Risk Factors that Contribute Alzheimer's Disease | Alzheimer's Reading Room

The researchers conclude that effective interventions in diet, medications, biochemical exposures, psychological condition, pre-existing disease and lifestyle may decrease new incidence of Alzheimer's.

The research is published online in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.

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Nine risk factors may contribute to two-thirds of Alzheimer's cases worldwide
All risks are potentially modifiable; and, could be options for prevention

The researchers linked all of the following to heightened dementia risk,
  1. obesity, 
  2. carotid artery narrowing, 
  3. low educational attainment, 
  4. depression, 
  5. high blood pressure, 
  6. frailty, 
  7. smoking habits, high levels of homocysteine (an amino acid), 
  8. and type 2 diabetes in the Asian population
to about two-thirds of global Alzheimer’s cases in their analysis of existing data.

There were no significant associations found for workplace factors.

Certain factors seemed to be linked to altered risk, depending on the time of life and ethnic background. The research suggest that preventive strategies unclude
  • targeting diet,
  • drugs,
  • body chemistry, 
  • mental health, 
  • pre-existing disease,
  •  and lifestyle
may help to stave off dementia.
  • The researchers looked a 16,906 articles published from 1968 up to 2014.
  • 323 articles, covering 93 different potential risk factors and more than 5000 people, were included in the analysis in the analysis. 
  • The researchers pooled the data from the studies and graded the evidence according to its strength.
They found grade 1 level evidence in favor of a protective effect for:
  1. female hormone estrogen, 
  2. cholesterol lowering drugs (statins), 
  3. drugs to lower high blood pressure, 
  4. and anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
They found the same level of evidence for
  1. folate,
  2. vitamins C and E,
  3. and coffee.
all of which were associated with helping to stave off the disease.

Results indicated a strong association between high levels of homocysteine -- an amino acid manufactured in the body -- and depression and a significantly heightened risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

This is an observational study, so no definitive conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect, but the researchers suggest that preventive strategies, targeting diet, prescription drugs, body chemistry, mental health, underlying disease, and lifestyle might help curb the number of new cases of Alzheimer's disease.

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