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Dementia is about a bad lifestyle, not age

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Forget age, dementia is everything to do with bad lifestyle choices.  

Someone with a healthy lifestyle—a good diet, doing regular exercise and not smoking—has the brain health of someone 20 years younger who has fallen into bad habits.

There are eight factors that can determine the chances of cognitive decline, say researchers from the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care—low education, hearing loss, traumatic brain injury, alcohol or substance abuse, hypertension (high blood pressure), smoking, diabetes (the result of a poor diet of sugary, processed foods and drinks), or depression.  

Suffering from even one of these factors ages the brain by three years, the researchers estimate.

They analysed data collated from more than 22,000 participants, aged from 18 to 89, who completed Baycrest’s brain assessment test.  The responses were measured against any of the eight factors the participants may have had.

Even the youngest participants had some cognitive problems if they were also suffering from one of the factors, and these were far more important than just someone’s age.  As each factor ages the brain by three years, someone not suffering from any of the risk factors had a far healthier brain than a younger person who displayed three or more of them.

“Our research shows that you have the power to decrease your risk of cognitive decline and dementia.  Start addressing any risk factors you have now, whether you’re 18 or 80, and you’ll support your brain health,” said researcher Annalise LaPlume.

Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring, 2022; 14: doi: 10.1002/dad2.12337

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