LONDON, July 14 (Reuters) – Healthy living with good nutrition and regular exercise can help people with a higher genetic sensitivity to dementia to compensate for the risk of development, according to recent research.
The risk of dementia was reduced by 32% for people with high genetic risk if they followed a healthy lifestyle compared to those who had an unhealthy lifestyle, a study, published in Sunday's JAMA medical journal, showed.
People with high genetic risk and unhealthy lifestyle had almost three times as likely to develop dementia than those with low genetic risk who also lived healthy.
"Our results are exciting because they show that we can take measures to try to compensate for our genetic risk for dementia," said Elzbieta Kuzma, a researcher at the British University of Exeter who was conducting the study.
Dementia – brain-consuming disease – affects about 50 million people worldwide, with nearly 10 million new cases per year – a figure that will triple by 2050, according to the World Health Organization.
My Kuzmin team analyzed data from nearly 197,000 adult European ancestors who were over the age of 60. They found 1769 dementia cases during the eight-year follow-up period and grouped these cases in people with high, middle and low genetic risk for dementia.
To assess lifestyle, researchers investigated diet, physical activity, smoking, and alcohol consumption.
It is thought that non-smokers who regularly practice and have good nutrition with moderate intake of alcohol have the healthiest way of life – and it has been discovered that these people reduce the risk of being in high, medium or low risk groups.
David Llewellyn, also from the University of Exeter, said the findings showed an important message that undermined what he described as a "fatalistic view of dementia."
"Some people believe it will inevitably develop dementia for their genetics," he said. "(But) you may be able to significantly reduce the risk of dementia by living a healthy lifestyle." (Report by Kate Kelland, edited by G Crosse)
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