Healthy Lifestyle Can Lower Dementia Risk among People Who Have Family History

Elderly woman with caregiver in the needle crafts occupational therapy for Alzheimer’s or dementiaFollowing healthy lifestyle behaviors can lower dementia risk in people who are at a higher risk due to family history. This is the information from a study that will be presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology, Prevention, Lifestyle & Cardiometabolic Health Conference 2021.

Family history is a strong risk factor for dementia. Having a first-degree relative such as a parent or sibling with the disease has been found to increase the risk of dementia by nearly 75% compared to someone who does not have a first-degree relative. Other common risk factors for dementia include age, race, sex, education, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, depression, and type 2 diabetes.


“When dementia runs in a family both genetics and non-genetic factors, such as dietary patterns, physical activity , and smoking status, affect an individual’s overall risk,” said study author Angelique Brellenthin, Ph.D. “This means there may be opportunities for reducing risk by addressing those non-genetic factors.”

For the study, researchers analyzed health information from 302,239 men and women aged 50-73 years. All participants were from the UK Biobank Study and had completed a baseline physical examination between 2006-2010. All adults were free of dementia at the beginning of the study and were required to fill out questionnaires about family history and lifestyle.

Healthy Lifestyle Behavior

Six healthy lifestyle factors were monitored in these patients. These included consuming a nutritious diet, sleeping 6 to 9 hours a day, moderate alcohol intake, and not smoking. Physical activity of 150 or more minutes of moderate – to vigorous was also tracked along with participant’s BMI.

After following participants for 8 years, it was found that adults with a family history of dementia had a 70% increased risk of the disease compared to those without the history. Participants who were following all six healthy lifestyle behaviors were able to cut their risk of developing dementia by nearly half. This is compared to participants following two or fewer healthy behaviors.

Participants who had followed at least three healthy lifestyle behaviors had a 25% to 35% reduced risk of dementia compared to those who followed two or less.

Researchers hope these results will bring attention to the importance of healthy lifestyle behaviors. They suggest starting with small changes such as engaging in at least three or more healthy lifestyle behaviors and adding more over time. This can significantly lower the risk of dementia, especially in those with a family history of the disease.

Author Bio

Sarah began her interest in nutritional healing at an early age. After going through health problems and becoming frustrated with the conventional ways doctors wanted to treat her illness (which were not working), she took it upon herself to find alternative treatments. This led her to revolutionize her own diet to help her get healthier and tackle her health problems. She began treating her illness by living a more balanced lifestyle through healthy food choices, exercise and other alternative medicine such as meditation. This total positive lifestyle change led her to earn a diploma in Nutritional Therapy from Health Sciences Academy in London, England. Today, Sarah enjoys helping others by teaching healthy lifestyle changes through her personal consultations and with her regular contributions to the Doctors Health Press. Also, passionate about following her dreams in life, Sarah moved to France and lived in Paris for over 5 years where she earned a certification in beadwork and embroidery from Lesage (an atelier owned by Chanel). She then went on to be a familiar face sitting front row and reporting from Paris Fashion Week. Sarah continues to practice some of the cultural ways of life she learned while in Europe. They enjoy their food, and take the time to relax and enjoy many of life’s little moments. These are life lessons she is glad to have brought back home with her.


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