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Recent Study Uncovers Three Major Risk Factors for Dementia


According to a recent study, diabetes, air pollution, and alcohol are the three biggest risk factors for senile dementia. Researchers involved with the study compared modifiable risk factors for dementia including impairment of memory, thinking, and reasoning. They then studied how these factors appear to affect certain regions of the brain that are particularly vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia.

The researchers studied the brain scans of nearly 40,000 adults ages 44 to 82 in Britain. The research was published by Nature Communications.

The vulnerable regions of the brain impacted by dementia develop during a person’s adolescence and help the brain integrate “bits of information across different modalities, across different senses,” according to an Oxford professor and co-author of the study. These are the first regions to slip when we start aging.

The study indicated that alcohol, air pollution, and diabetes were the three most prominent risk factors for developing dementia as they target specific areas of the brain. The study concluded, however, that there are other risk factors as well.

The impact of Alzheimer’s across the world 

Over 55 million people live with dementia around the world. That figure is expected to increase to 153 million by 2050, according to the World Health Organization.

Dementia is defined as the loss of cognitive function. Symptoms result when brain neurons lose their connection to other brain cells and eventually die, according to the National Institute on Aging. While everyone loses neurons as they age, the loss is much more pronounced in dementia patients.

Both diabetes and alcohol consumption have been shown to be consistently associated with both cerebral and cognitive decline, according to the aforementioned study. There is a growing body of evidence that indicates that exposure to air pollution is a major risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia.

A 2020 study indicated that other risk factors include hypertension, hearing impairment, smoking, and obesity. These, taken together, account for up to 40 percent of dementia cases worldwide. Other risk factors include age, genes, family history, traumatic brain injury, and a stroke are also potential risk factors.

Expert recommendations on avoiding cognitive decline 

Experts recommend eating a healthy, varied diet to help lower your blood sugar. They also recommend taking measures to protect against “traffic-related pollution” while drinking alcohol in moderation. The study recommends that not only should individuals do more to ensure their cognitive health, but local governments should take action to devise helpful policies.

Social and physical activity is also associated with positive cognitive health. Stimulating experiences, such as walking outside and seeing different things, are highly beneficial to cognitive health. Conversations can lead to “rapid brain stimulation.” Instances such as hearing loss can prevent an individual from engaging in brain-stimulating behavior.

Lastly, the study recommends that if you smoke, you should stop.

Talk to a Virginia Beach Elder Law Attorney Today 

The Law Office of Angela N. Manz helps seniors prepare their estates and long-term care plans. Call our Virginia Beach estate planning attorneys today to schedule an appointment, and we can begin discussing novel ways to ensure that you’re prepared for your long-term care needs.



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