A third of all Alzheimer's cases preventable claims new Cambridge study

The study by Cambridge University's Institute of Public Health said that changes in lifestyle could see a significant reduction in the number of Alzheimer's cases

A third of all Alzheimer's cases worldwide are preventable, a new study published by the University of Cambridge has found.

The research, which was carried out by Cambridge University’s Institute of Public Health and published in the medical journal The Lancet on Monday, said that one in three Alzheimer’s cases could be avoided if there was a change to people’s lifestyles.

Using population data, researchers were able to work out the seven main risk factors that brought about Alzheimer’s in later life.

A lack of exercise, smoking and better diets were all seen as significant factors in making people more susceptible to the disease, while other factors such as low educational attainment, depression and other conditions brought on by poor lifestyle were also seen as contributors.

The researchers led by Professor Carol Brayne, predicted that if these “modifiable risk factors” were reduced by just 10 per cent, nearly nine million cases of the disease could be prevented.         

In Britain they found that a 10 per cent reduction in risk factors would reduce cases by 200,000 in 2050.

There are currently 820,000 people in the UK living with Alzheimer's and there is a fear that this number could continue to grow as Britain’s population ages.

Proffessor Carol Brayne, from the Institute of Public Health at the University of Cambridge, told the BBC that: "Although there is no single way to treat dementia, we may be able to take steps to reduce our risk of developing dementia at older ages.

"We know what many of these factors are, and that they are often linked.

"Simply tackling physical inactivity, for example, will reduce levels of obesity, hypertension and diabetes, and prevent some people from developing dementia.

"As well as being healthier in old age in general, it's a win-win situation."

It is estimated that the number of people to suffer from Alzheimer’s will treble to more than 106 million sufferers in 2050.

In the US, UK and Europe, physical was seen as the biggest contributor to Alzheimer's, with about a third of their adult population physically inactive.

A similar study carried out by the University of California in 2011, had suggested that one in two cases of Alzheimer’s could be prevented if these risk factors reduced; however, the new study claims that the number is lower.

The lead researcher of the 2011 study, Dr Deborah Barnes, welcomed the new findings and said that studies like this were very important to the medical profession.

“It's important that we have as accurate an estimate of the projected prevalence of Alzheimer's as possible, as well as accurate estimates of the potential impact of lifestyle changes at a societal level,"

"Our hope is that these estimates will help public health professionals and health policy makers design effective strategies to prevent and manage this disease."

Dr Simon Ridley, head of research at charity Alzheimer's Research UK, also supported the findings but was keen to stress the need for continued research.

He said: “We still do not fully understand the mechanisms behind how these factors are related to the onset of Alzheimer's.

"As there is still no certain way to prevent Alzheimer's, research must continue to build the strongest evidence around health and environmental factors to help individuals reduce their risk."

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<p>
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
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<p>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
<p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
<p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
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