New research reported at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) 2019 in Los Angeles, USA, suggests healthy lifestyle choices including healthy diet, exercise, and cognitive stimulation, may decrease risk of cognitive decline and dementia. The research suggests that lifestyle modifications may reduce risk even in the face of other risk factors, including genetics and pollution. Multiple lifestyle factors can be modified and may additively reduce the risk of dementia.
The Alzheimer’s Association founded in 1980, based out of Chicago, USA, is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Their mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research, to provide and enhance care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. The vision is a world without Alzheimer’s.
To determine whether multi-component lifestyle changes can protect memory and thinking skills in people at risk of developing dementia the Alzheimer’s Association is leading the U.S. Study to Protect Brain Health Through Lifestyle Intervention to Reduce Risk (U.S. POINTER). U.S. POINTER is the first study to examine these combined interventions in a large-scale, diverse, U.S.-based population. The interventions include physical exercise, nutritional counseling and modification, cognitive and social stimulation, and improved self-management of health. The study is taking place at five sites across the U.S.; initial results are expected in 2023.
Five research studies reported at AAIC 2019 suggest:
- Adopting four or five healthy lifestyle factors reduced risk of Alzheimer’s dementia by 60% compared to adopting none or only one factor.
- Adherence to a healthy lifestyle may counteract genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
- Having a higher cognitive reserve, built through formal education and cognitive stimulation, may benefit the aging brain by reducing risk of dementia among people exposed to high levels of air pollution.
- Confirmation that early adult to mid-life smoking may be associated with cognitive impairment at mid-life, as early as one’s 40s.
- Alcohol use disorder significantly increased risk of dementia in older women.
“While there is no proven cure or treatment for Alzheimer’s, a large body of research now strongly suggests that combining healthy habits promotes good brain health and reduces your risk of cognitive decline.” … “The research reported today at AAIC gives us attainable, actionable recommendations that can help us all live a healthier life.” – Maria C. Carrillo, PhD, chief science officer, Alzheimer’s Association