Up to two-thirds of Alzheimer’s cases worldwide may stem from any of nine conditions that often result from lifestyle choices, a broad research review suggests. The findings were published online Aug. 20 in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.
Jin-Tai Yu, M.D., Ph.D., an associate specialist in neurology at the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues reviewed the findings of 323 studies completed between 1968 and 2014. Collectively, the studies involved more than 5,000 patients and looked at 93 conditions with the potential to affect Alzheimer’s risk. The team set out to determine which factors appeared to offer some protection against developing Alzheimer’s.
The strongest evidence suggested that coffee, vitamins C and E, folate, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, statins, antihypertensive medications, and estrogen supplementation all appeared to reduce Alzheimer’s risk. Patients battling several serious health conditions also seemed to see their risk fall, including those with arthritis, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and/or cancer. Those who were light or moderate drinkers of alcohol similarly saw their Alzheimer’s risk dip, alongside current smokers (apart from those of Asian descent), those struggling with stress, and seniors with high body mass index.
By contrast, a complex statistical analysis enabled the research team to zero in on the nine factors that appeared to elevate Alzheimer’s risk among 66 percent of those who ultimately get the disease. Those include high body mass index in midlife; carotid artery disease; hypertension; depression; frailty; being poorly educated; having high levels of homocysteine; and (specifically among those of Asian descent) being a smoker and/or having type 2 diabetes. “The current evidence from our study showed that individuals would benefit from [addressing] the related potentially modifiable risk factors,” Yu told HealthDay. Yu is also senior editor of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.