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Bid to reduce Alzheimer's risk

15 July 2014 08:35

It is estimated more than 106 million people will have Alzheimer's by 2050

It is estimated more than 106 million people will have Alzheimer's by 2050

Simple lifestyle changes could help re duce the risk of Alzheimer's, researchers say.

Cambridge scientists have highlighted seven risk factors of the disease - diabetes, mid-life hypertension, mid-life obesity, physical inactivity, depression, smoking, and low educational attainment.

Reducing the risk from these, for example by increasing exercise, could prevent nine million cases of the disease by 2050, they believe.

Study leader Professor Carol Brayne, from the Cambridge Institute of Public Health at the University of Cambridge, says tackling physical inactivity is a "a win-win situation" as not only can it improve the health of older people in general and reduce levels of obesity and diabetes, it can help in the fight against dementia.

Previous research in 2011 estimated as many as one in two cases could be preventable.

The leader of that study, Dr Deborah Barnes, from the University of California, San Francisco and the San Francisco VA Medical Centre, is a co-author on the new study.

She says: "It's important that we have as accurate an estimate of the projected prevalence of Alzheimer's as possible, as well as accurate estimates of the potential impact of lifestyle changes at a societal level."

Dr Barnes pointed out that A lzheimer's is affecting health services worldwide and the latest information should help alleviate some of that burden by helping public health professionals and policy makers draw up "effective strategies to prevent and manage this disease."

Meanwhile, separate research shown at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Copenhagen has shown how eye check-ups could be used to pick up the early signs of dementia.

Over the next 36 years, it is thought more than 106 million people will have Alzheimer's; the figure stood at 30 million in 2010.

The research, funded by the National Institute for Health Research, is published in The Lancet Neurology.

Specialist travel insurance is available for people with Alzheimer's.