modifiable risk factors for alzheimer's disease

Study identifies modifiable risk factors associated with either protection from or promoting the development of Alzheimer’s disease.


A study conducted by researchers at the University of California, USA, in collaboration with Qingdao University, China, has evaluated the currently available data on the modifiable risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. The study reviewed over 300 clinical studies of Alzheimer’s disease and its potential risk factors.

The researchers found strong evidence for a protective effect of estrogen, statin, antihypertensive medication, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. In addition, a strong associated protective effect was found for the dietary factors: folate, vitamin E, vitamin C, and coffee.

Strong evidence for increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease was associated with increased homocysteine, and depression. These factors both significantly increased the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Several pre-existing medical conditions were also strongly association with increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, these included: frailty, carotid atherosclerosis, hypertension, low diastolic blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. Conversely, medical conditions that were associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease included arthritis, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and cancer.

When assessing lifestyle factors, the researchers found an increase in risk of Alzheimer’s was associated with low education and high BMI in mid-life. While cognitive activity, smoking, light to moderate drinking, stress, and high BMI in late life were associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers conclude that the study, which reviews many risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, reveals areas for intervention in terms of dietary, medical, and biochemical exposure.



Xu, W, Tan, L, Wang, H-F, Jiang, T, Tan, M-S, Tan, L, Zhao, Q-F, Li, J-Q, Wang, J, Yu, J-T. “Meta-analysis of modifiable risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease” J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry doi:10.1136/jnnp-2015-310548

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Written by Deborah Tallarigo, PhD

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