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Alzheimer’s study suggests new link to lifestyle

A woman, suffering from Alzheimer's desease, looks at an old picture of herself.
A woman, suffering from Alzheimer's desease, looks at an old picture of herself.

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Is there anything you can do to prevent getting Alzheimer’s, the complex degenerative brain disorder predicted to affect 1 in 85 people globally by 2050? Researchers didn’t used to think there was much of a link between lifestyle and developing the disease, but a new study presented at this week’s Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Paris and published in the journal Lancet Neurology, suggests that “modifiable risk factors”—like exercise, diet and mental activity—might actually make huge differences. According to the analysis, more than half of all cases are potentially preventable through simple lifestyle changes like exercising, quitting smoking and losing weight. That said, doctors caution that there are plenty of people who, regardless of doing everything “right,” will still develop the disease, but even a 10% reduction in risk factors could prevent 1.1 million cases worldwide. It’s just not yet clear which risk factors should be targeted first. Tune in to find out whether you should spend a free hour walking or doing Sudoku.


Debra Cherry executive vice president of the Alzheimer’s Association’s California-Southland Chapter