A healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity, a healthy diet, moderate alcohol consumption and no smoking can significantly reduce the risk of developing dementia, even for people with genetic risk factors.

University of Exeter researchers studied data on 196,383 European adults ages 60 and older. Data analysis showed that in people with a high genetic risk of dementia, the odds of developing the disease were 32% lower in those with a healthy lifestyle than in those with unhealthy lifestyle habits.

Study author David Llewellyn, PhD, associate professor of neuro┬¡epidemiology and digital health, University of Exeter Medical School, and fellow at the Alan Turing Institute in England, said, “This research delivers a really important message that undermines a fatalistic view of dementia. Some people believe it’s inevitable they’ll develop dementia because of their genetics. However, it appears that you may be able to substantially reduce your dementia risk by living a healthy lifestyle.”

Find the study in JAMA (2019; 322 [5], 430–37).

Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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