Lower Your Risk of Cognitive Decline and Dementia: Avoid These 8 Controllable Risk Factors

Explosion of brain dementia concept

The study found that each of the risk factors led to a decline in cognitive performance for up to three years.

A new study finds that dementia risk may be determined more by lifestyle than age.

According to recent Baycrest research, adults without risk factors for dementia such as smoking, diabetes or hearing loss had comparable brain health to those 10 to 20 years younger than them. According to research, just one risk factor for dementia can age a person’s cognition by up to three years.

“Our results suggest that lifestyle factors may be more important than age in determining a person’s level of cognitive functioning. This is great news, as there is much you can do to modify these factors, such as managing diabetes, addressing hearing loss, and getting the support you need to quit smoking,” says Dr. Annalize LaPlume, a postdoctoral fellow at the Baycrest Rotman Research Institute (RRI) and lead author of the study.

The research is one of the first to look at lifestyle risk factors for dementia throughout life.

“While most studies of this nature look at middle and late adulthood, we also included data from participants as young as 18 years old and found that risk factors had a negative impact on cognitive performance at all ages. This is crucial, as it means that risk factors can and should be addressed as soon as possible,” says Dr. Nicole Anderson, RRI Senior Scientist, Associate Scientific Director of the Kimel Family Center for Brain Health and Wellness at Baycrest, and lead author. of this article. to study.

The study, recently published in the journal

The researchers examined how eight modifiable risk factors for dementia—low education (less than a high school diploma), hearing loss, traumatic brain injury, alcohol or substance abuse, hypertension, smoking (currently or in the past four years), diabetes, and depression—affected participants’ performance on memory and attention tests.

Each factor caused a reduction in cognitive function that was equivalent to three years of age, with each additional factor having a similar effect. For instance, having three risk factors could result in a decline in cognitive function that is comparable to nine years of aging. As individuals aged, the consequences of the risk variables and their prevalence also rose.

“All in all, our research shows that you have the power to decrease your risk of cognitive decline and dementia,” says Dr. LaPlume. “Start addressing any risk factors you have now, whether you’re 18 or 90, and you’ll support your brain health to help yourself age fearlessly.”

Reference: “The adverse effect of modifiable dementia risk factors on cognition amplifies across the adult lifespan” by Annalise A. LaPlume, Ph.D., Larissa McKetton, Ph.D., Brian Levine, Ph.D., Angela K. Troyer, Ph.D. and Nicole D. Anderson, Ph.D., 13 July 2022, Alzheimer’s & Dementia Diagnosis Assessment & Disease Monitoring.
DOI: 10.1002/dad2.12337

This study was funded by the Alzheimer Society of Canada, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

With additional funding, the researchers could look further into the differences between normal agers and “super agers” – people who have the identical cognitive performance to those several decades younger than them.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *