DR ANDREW WEIL: HALF OF ALZHEIMER’S CASES PREVENTABLE

Modest lifestyle changes could prevent more than half of the cases of Alzheimer’s disease.  Presenters at the Alzheimer Association’s International Conference in Paris last summer tagged seven factors associated with half of all Alzheimer’s cases:

1.  Low education, possibly because less education means less opportunity to develop neural connections to carry into old age

2.  Smoking

3.  Too little exercise, the leading problem in the US

4.  Untreated or inadequately treated depression

5  Mid-life high blood pressure

6.  Diabetes

7.  Mid-life obesity

Deborah Barnes, PhD, a mental health researcher at the San Francisco VA Medical Center, analyzed studies from around the world that included data from hundreds of thousands of participants.  Cutting the above risk factors by 25% could reduce Alzheimer’s incidence worldwide by three million cases and by half a million fewer cases in the US.

The good doctor’s take:  “Considering that Alzheimer’s cases are expected to triple by 2050 to about 106 million worldwide, it isn’t too soon to adopt preventive strategies.

“Also, consider that most of the lifestyle risk factors associated with Alzheimer’s disease, including smoking, inactivity, high blood pressure, diabetes and mid-life obesity, also raise the risk of cardiovascular disease.  Making these changes would be good for your body as well as your brain.

“As far as low education is concerned, it isn’t too late to add to your brain power by challenging your mind.  I’ve long recommended strategies such as reading newspapers and books, learning dance steps, doing crossword puzzles, playing musical instruments, participating in ongoing education and learning a new language.”

For more information about the disease and its care, go to the Alzheimer Association’s website at http://www.alz.org/

For answers to your wellness questions, go to  http://www.drweil.com/.

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