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Lifestyle linked to changes in brain ageing: Study

LONDON, Dec 18: Making basic lifestyle changes could help to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, according to Xinhua news agency reports which cited British health charity the Age UK.

A review of academic studies and data reveals that about 76 per cent of cognitive decline – changes in thinking skills with age including memory loss and speed of thinking – is accounted for by lifestyle and other environmental factors including level of education.

The analysis suggests that there are five “simple and effective” steps people can take to maintain brain health and reduce their risk of developing dementia. Lifestyle factors could decrease the risk of developing dementia, including regular physical exercise, eating a healthy diet, not smoking and drinking alcohol in moderation.

Preventing and treating diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity were also found to reduce the risk of dementia.

One large UK study carried out over 30 years found that men aged between 45 and 59 who followed four to five of the identified lifestyle factors were found to have a 36 per cent lower risk of developing cognitive decline, and a 36 per cent lower risk of developing dementia than those who did not.

The Age UK hopes the new evidence will spur people to make changes which will help them reduce the risk of developing dementia. “While there’s still no cure or way to reverse dementia, this evidence shows that there are simple and effective ways to reduce our risk of developing it to begin with,” it said.

Caroline Abrahams, director of Age UK, said: “The sooner we start, the better our chance of having a healthy later life.”

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