MIchael Hunter, MD, Column

Top 13 Ways to Cut Dementia

I HAVE A GREAT FEAR OF DEMENTIA. Today, I want to share thirteen evidence-based ways you may lower your chances of getting significant memory loss. First, let’s look briefly at the scope of this health problem. Here is what I previously wrote:

“By 2050, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia prevalence will rise to nearly 13 million. To bring this back to a more understandable level, The Alzheimer’s Association offers this sobering statistic:

One in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia (such as dementia with Lewy bodies).

Let’s be clear: There is no proven cure or highly effective treatment for Alzheimer’s. Nevertheless, a growing body of research strongly suggests that combining healthy lifestyle habits can reduce your risk of cognitive decline.”

Dementia — risk factors

An update to the 2017 Lancet Commission report is our focus. Initially, the group reported nine potentially modifiable risk factors for dementia:

  • less education
  • high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • hearing impairment
  • smoking
  • obesity
  • depression
  • physical inactivity
  • diabetes
  • low social contact

We can now add three more: Excessive alcohol consumption, traumatic brain injury, and air pollution.

Excessive alcohol consumption raises dementia risk. Photo by Vinicius “amnx” Amano on Unsplash

Dementia — What can we do to reduce risk?

There is some good news: Given the 12 modifiable risk factors are responsible for approximately two in five cases of dementia worldwide, we have the opportunity to change the natural history of the disease for 40 percent of us.

The Lancet Commission report authors categorize risk reduction strategies as 1) reducing pathologic damage (inflammatory, blood vessel, or amyloid/tau plaque-related); and 2) maintaining or improving cognitive reserve.

I plan to stay active cognitively, socially, and physically. We have little evidence for any single activity protecting against Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Still, sustained physical activity in midlife (and perhaps in later life, too) drops dementia risk. This improvement in odds may be secondary to the associated decreases in obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular risk factors.

If my hearing diminishes, I will not be too proud to decline hearing aids. And you? How are you reducing your risk of suffering from memory loss? Oh, one more thing — Watch the sugary beverages:Drinking This Twice Daily May Increase Your Dementia RiskWHAT TYPES OF BEVERAGES do you enjoy? I enjoy a single cup of espresso each morning, a mid-morning cup of tea, and…medium.com.

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Michael Hunter, MD
I received an undergraduate degree from Harvard, a medical degree from Yale, and trained in radiation oncology at the University of Pennsylvania. I practice radiation oncology in the Seattle area.

Michael Hunter, MD

I received an undergraduate degree from Harvard, a medical degree from Yale, and trained in radiation oncology at the University of Pennsylvania. I practice radiation oncology in the Seattle area.

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