(Source: US News and World Report) – Research released at an international Alzheimer’s conference in Paris found that seven risk factors may contribute to as many as three million cases of Alzheimer’s in the United States. The operative word here is “may”.

The research identified potentially modifiable Alzheimer’s risk factors, and the proportion of cases that are potentially attributable to each factor:

  1. Physical inactivity: 21 percent
  2. Depression: 15 percent
  3. Smoking: 11 percent
  4. Mid-life hypertension: 8 percent
  5. Mid-life obesity: 7 percent
  6. Low education: 7 percent
  7. Diabetes: 3 percent

The big unknown about the research, Deborah Barnes noted, is whether the presumed relationship between the risk factors and Alzheimer’s holds up in actual studies of people with these risk factors who eliminate or reduce them through lifestyle changes. “The next step is to perform large-scale intervention studies to really find out whether changing these risk factors will lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s over time,” Barnes said.

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