Does a Healthy Lifestyle Save You 

Elderly people are usually given simple tips to reduce the risks of developing dementia: eat right, move more and do not smoke. The results of the new study put genetic preference and the need for a healthy lifestyle in the first place long before the age when you can start talking about the risks of dementia.

In a study of more than 6,300 people 55 years of age and older, scientists found that people with a healthy lifestyle had a lower risk of developing dementia over the next 15 years of their life. However, if the observed genes were found to be associated with an increased risk of dementia, unfortunately, there were no signs that a healthy lifestyle reduces the risks of developing this disease.

The results of the study, published in the journal Nature Medicine on August 26, confirm the results of some previous studies indicating that habits that keep the heart healthy can also protect the human brain. Nevertheless, there are contradictions with some other studies, which concluded that a healthy lifestyle can reduce the risks of dementia in a population with a high genetic risk.

The reasons for such conflicting results are not yet clear. According to a leading researcher at the Medical Center of the University. Erasmus of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Dr. Sylvan Licher, here can play a role the age of the patient.

The participants in the study he organized were, on average, 69 years old, when their lifestyle was assessed, and a healthy lifestyle that could affect the risks of dementia may need to be started much earlier - for example, at middle age. Scientists say that in no case should the results of the study go against the general doctrine of the importance of a healthy lifestyle. On the contrary, they provide additional motivation to start leading a healthy lifestyle as early as possible. And the benefits are much greater, including reduced risks of heart disease and stroke.

During the study, scientists divided the participants into groups depending on the set of genes, for this two different approaches were used. In the first approach, scientists focused on the ApoE gene (certain variations of this gene are associated with a relatively high risk of developing Alzheimer's disease). The second approach examined a number of genes associated with the risk of dementia.

Licher’s team also evaluated the participants ’lifestyle and health factors: regular training, diet, alcohol, smoking, and diabetes, depression, and social isolation. During observations over the next 15 years, participants with a favorable lifestyle in the absence of a high genetic risk revealed a low likelihood of developing dementia. The difference between the effects of a healthy and unhealthy lifestyle was visible, for example, among people with low ApoE risk indicators: dementia developed in less than 13% of cases against 32% of cases. But among people with high ApoE risk, the picture was completely different: about 18% of people with healthy lifestyles acquired dementia versus 19.5% among those who had bad habits.

Researchers note that additional clinical trials are needed to get clearer answers.