Dementia: healthy lifestyle more important than genes

Lifestyle takes precedence over genes, even with a genetically determined double risk of dementia. A healthy lifestyle, which includes healthy eating, exercise and no smoking, reduces the risk of dementia. In people who have a genetic predisposition to develop dementia, this risk drops by 3 percent. Healthy living has an even greater protective effect on people who do not have ‘bad genes’, suggesting that the problem is avoidable for most healthy living people, according to researchers at the University of Exeter in Britain. 

Unhealthy eating habits

They tracked the health of more than 196,000 people. This group of people, with an average age of 64, showed no signs of dementia. 20 percent of these people had a higher risk of getting the disease due to their genetic profile. And of those who had a healthy lifestyle, 1.13 percent eventually suffered from dementia, compared to 1.78 percent of those who had unhealthy eating habits and did not exercise. These figures clearly indicate that lifestyle influences the genes. Dementia only occurred in 0.5 percent of people with both a low genetic risk and a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle includes exercise, moderate alcohol consumption, a healthy diet and no smoking, said the researchers.

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