Decrease Your Risk of Cognitive Decline and Dementia – Avoid These 8 Controllable Risk Factors

Exploding Brain Dementia Concept

The study found that each of the risk factors led to a decrease in cognitive performance of up to three years.

A new study finds that dementia risk might be more determined by lifestyle rather than age.

According to recent Baycrest research, adults without dementia risk factors like smoking, diabetes, or hearing loss had brain health comparable to that of those who are 10 to 20 years younger than them. According to the research, only one dementia risk factor can age a person’s cognition by up to three years.

“Our results suggest lifestyle factors may be more important than age in determining someone’s level of cognitive functioning. This is great news since there’s a lot you can do to modify these factors, such as managing diabetes, addressing hearing loss, and getting the support you need to quit smoking,” says Dr. Annalise LaPlume, Postdoctoral Fellow at Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute (RRI) and the study’s lead author.

The research is one of the first to look at lifestyle risk factors for dementia across the entire lifespan.

“While most studies of this nature look at mid- and older-adulthood, we also included data from participants as young as 18, and we found that risk factors had a negative impact on cognitive performance across all ages. This is crucial as it means risk factors can and should be addressed as early as possible,” says Dr. Nicole Anderson, Senior Scientist at the RRI, Associate Scientific Director of Baycrest’s Kimel Family Centre for Brain Health and Wellness, and senior author of this study.

The study, recently published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment, and Disease Monitoring, a journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, included data from 22,117 people aged 18 to 89 who completed the Cogniciti Brain Health Assessment, developed by Baycrest. Participants took the test in their own homes by going to the Cogniciti website. The test takes around 20 minutes to complete and consists of a background questionnaire and four cognitive tasks.

The researchers examined how eight modifiable risk factors for dementia—low education (less than a high school diploma), hearing loss, traumatic brain injury, alcohol or substance abuse, hypertension, smoking (currently or in the past four years), diabetes, and depression—affected participants’ performance on memory and attention tests.

Each factor caused a reduction in cognitive function that was equivalent to three years of age, with each additional factor having a similar effect. For instance, having three risk factors could result in a decline in cognitive function that is comparable to nine years of aging. As individuals aged, the consequences of the risk variables and their prevalence also rose.

“All in all, our research shows that you have the power to decrease your risk of cognitive decline and dementia,” says Dr. LaPlume. “Start addressing any risk factors you have now, whether you’re 18 or 90, and you’ll support your brain health to help yourself age fearlessly.”

Reference: “The adverse effect of modifiable dementia risk factors on cognition amplifies across the adult lifespan” by Annalise A. LaPlume, Ph.D., Larissa McKetton, Ph.D., Brian Levine, Ph.D., Angela K. Troyer, Ph.D. and Nicole D. Anderson, Ph.D., 13 July 2022, Alzheimer’s & Dementia Diagnosis Assessment & Disease Monitoring.
DOI: 10.1002/dad2.12337

This study was funded by the Alzheimer Society of Canada, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

With additional funding, the researchers could look further into the differences between normal agers and “super agers” – people who have the identical cognitive performance to those several decades younger than them.

24 Comments on "Decrease Your Risk of Cognitive Decline and Dementia – Avoid These 8 Controllable Risk Factors"

  1. Stephanie Stern | August 22, 2022 at 3:11 pm | Reply

    This story leaves out how to fight against hearing loss. Like, what can you do about it?

    • How to prevent hearing loss? Easy… protect your ears. Use ear plugs at concerts and in areas with loud machinery. Don’t listen to loud noises for prolonged periods of time. There are tons of nifty dB charts that show you danger to hearing based on time and loudness.

  2. What if you’re born deaf but use a hearing aid?

  3. Okay, this is synopsis of *one* study. We aren’t given the number of test subjects, how the information was gathered or information on how the study was conducted. No information on test efficacy. Was this study replicated by other researchers? Results? This journal synopsis fails on many levels to give a complete picture of the actual study. Which is fine for an academic because this is written for someone who’s going to go read the full study in the medical journal that it’s published in. But to have this synopsis plopped into a general news feed for people who may not be familiar with medical journal articles, is a bit irresponsible. Not implying that people can’t figure it out, just saying that if you’re going to provide the synopsis in a news feed then you better provide the full study or make it very clear that this is a medical journal synopsis for a study with a target audience of doctors and other health professionals/researchers.

  4. Every person I know with dementia didn’t drink, smoke, or otherwise live an unhealthy life. Every person I know who did those things didn’t live lavgvwnugk

  5. It’s funny how alcohol is never considered a substance or a drug. Like it lives completely outside of the realm of physics, chemistry and neuropharmacology but somehow always firmly exists in the realm of denial.

  6. I noticed the hearing thing also. They qualified it by saying untreated hearing loss… As in not wearing a hearing aid.

    • It is clear that this is a medical journal publication synopsis and the reference to the scientific paper is in the body of the article.

  7. everyone in the 5 comments under this is right wtf were you guys doing with this article- was u paid by anti smoking people to make a fluff article that shows what truth advertisements already did in a way that blames ppl for dementia??- also what does everyone else think of on the list to help not get dementia?

  8. This is a peer reviewed article funded by the Alzheimer Society of Canada, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. Regardless of what you think does and not cause dementia, these are the factors scientists identified to be contributory. And reviewed by fellow scientists. Everyone’s nonscientific opinion on these comments is irrelevant.

  9. Quincey Cherry | August 24, 2022 at 8:44 am | Reply

    How about the heavy metals in our systems? Proven as a source of Alzheimer’s and dementia, yet not mentioned here.

  10. How to prevent hearing loss? Easy… protect your ears. Use ear plugs at concerts and in areas with loud machinery. Don’t listen to loud noises for prolonged periods of time. There are tons of nifty dB charts that show you danger to hearing based on time and loudness.

  11. I’ve never abused my ears, never smoked and am a type 1 diabetic. I’m 84 going on 85 and have no dementia.
    Can you explain this?

  12. just read where soon, hearing aids will be sold over the counter

  13. Type 1 diabetes is, genetically predisposed hypertension and ( to my knowledge ) depression are all not controllable , this article is either missing a lot of information or the study itself is missing a lot of variables.

  14. I am 49 and my brain shows signs of dementia. I also wear hearing aids and have since the age of 29. The “specialists” say I have a congenital birth defect. Interesting how I learned two foreign languages. In the last year I became very ill and traditional medicine has been of no help whatsoever. My problems were certainly complicated by Covid. I have two genetic markers that indicate I don’t detox properly. I have heavy metals, mold, chemicals, Lyme (along with coinfections), long haul Covid and a I’m sure I missed a few things. There are many people like me who are looking for answers. The sad part of this is that I have only found out because I have been able to throw money at it by seeking answers from functional doctors. Many are often referred to as quacks. There are so many toxins in our water, the food we eat, the air we breathe etc. All it takes is too much burden on your system and if your body can’t clear things (which most people with a healthy immune system can), you will see the consequences.

  15. Kitty rodriguez | August 27, 2022 at 12:44 pm | Reply

    What does high school have to do with it ? There are many kinds of education besides high school.

  16. Do the opposite of what your physician says, since they sing to the tune played by Big Pharma: Eat fatty meats, butter lard, ghee, tallow and cholesterol rich foods. Avoid fruits, vegetables, grains -whole or processes,and avoid starchy and sugary foods.

    Your brain needs saturated fats and cholesterol from animal products.

  17. Thank you for sharing this info. It does include adequate details on the study itself for credibility. It does not guarantee any outcome nor say these are only factors… it just tells us the study indicates our risk for developing alzhiemer increases with these more controllable factors. Some comments suggest that publishing this study is negligent. Seems that NOT sharing this info with general public would be far more negligent.

  18. What about Genetics? Does it factor in?

  19. I believe vision loss also can lead to dementia altho not mentioned here

  20. The study doesnt mention another major risk factor, persistqnt inflammation has been linked to higher risk factor as well.

  21. correct me if I’m wrong but these illnesses in cognitive decline in older folks,parkinsons Alzheimer’s and the rest are an American only problem ? Why is that, , Japan have no where near the number of people is suffering from these horrible diseases

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