Reducing Your Risk: Modifiable Risk Factors for Alzheimer's Disease
Updated: May 31
Alzheimer's disease is a devastating condition that affects millions of people worldwide, and it's becoming increasingly important to understand its risk factors. While genetic factors can play a role in some cases, the vast majority of Alzheimer's cases are sporadic, meaning they're not caused by a specific gene mutation. Instead, they result from a complex interplay of genetic and environmental factors.
While we can't do anything about our genetic risk factors, there is a growing list of modifiable risk factors for Alzheimer's disease that we can control. These include midlife type 2 diabetes, obesity, midlife hypertension, smoking, physical inactivity, and dietary lifestyle.
Clinical evidence suggests that up to 30-35% of late-onset Alzheimer's cases are related to one or more of these risk factors when an individual is 45-55 years old. By making simple lifestyle changes like correcting high glucose levels, losing weight, controlling blood pressure, quitting smoking, being physically active, and adopting a healthy diet, we could dramatically reduce the incidence of Alzheimer's later in life.
Reducing the incidence of Alzheimer's disease by 30% would be a tremendous success in our fight against this devastating condition. It's important to note that while these lifestyle changes won't necessarily prevent Alzheimer's disease entirely, they can certainly lower your risk and improve your overall health.
In conclusion, while we can't control our genetic risk factors for Alzheimer's disease, we do have some control over our modifiable risk factors. By making simple lifestyle changes, we can significantly reduce our risk of developing this condition and improve our overall health and well-being.
Domenico Praticò, MD, is the Scott Richards North Star Charitable Foundation Chair for Alzheimer’s Research, Professor and Director of the Alzheimer’s Center at Temple, and Professor of Pharmacology at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University