One in three Alzheimer's disease cases may be preventable new research suggests

A third of Alzheimer’s disease cases worldwide can be attributed to risk factors that can be modified such as education and physical activity, according to new research carried out by Cambridge University. This is lower than previous estimates as it takes into account the fact that some of the risk factors are related.

Alzheimer’s disease is caused by a complex interplay of genetic and lifestyle factors. The Cambridge team analysed population-based data to work out the main seven risk factors for Alzheimer's disease. These are:

  • Diabetes
  • Mid-life hypertension
  • Mid-life obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Depression
  • Smoking
  • Low educational attainment

Current estimates suggest that more than 106 million people worldwide will be living with Alzheimer's by 2050, which is more than three times the number affected in 2010.

Of the seven risk factors, the largest proportion of cases of Alzheimer's in the US, UK and the rest of Europe can be attributed to physical inactivity. The study says about a third of the adult population in these countries are physically inactive.

Professor Carol Brayne form the Cambridge Institute of Public Health led the study. She states: “Simply tackling physical inactivity, for example, will reduce levels of obesity, hypertension and diabetes, and prevent some people from developing dementia

Decline in mental capacity, brain functioning and memory that affects day-to-day living. Full medical glossary
A disorder caused by insufficient or absent production of the hormone insulin by the pancreas, or because the tissues are resistant to the effects. Full medical glossary
The basic unit of genetic material carried on chromosomes. Full medical glossary
Relating to the genes, the basic units of genetic material. Full medical glossary
High blood pressure. Full medical glossary
Excess accumulation of fat in the body. Full medical glossary