Health, Lifestyle Factors Key to Curb Risk of Young-Onset Dementia — Study
LONDON — Researchers have for the first time indicated, it may be possible to reduce the risk of young-onset dementia by targeting health and lifestyle factors.
The findings, published in JAMA Neurology, challenges the notion that genetics are the sole cause of the condition.
“Our research breaks new ground in identifying that the risk of young-onset dementia can be reduced. We think this could herald a new era in interventions to reduce new cases of this condition,” said Dr Janice Ranson, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Exeter.
Researchers followed more than 350,000 participants younger than 65 across the UK.
The team evaluated a broad array of risk factors ranging from genetic predispositions to lifestyle and environmental influences.
The study revealed that lower formal education, lower socioeconomic status, genetic variation, lifestyle factors such as alcohol use disorder and social isolation, and health issues including vitamin D deficiency, depression, stroke, hearing impairment and heart disease significantly elevate risk of young-onset dementia.
“We already knew from research on people who develop dementia at older age that there are a series of modifiable risk factors. In addition to physical factors, mental health also plays an important role, including avoiding chronic stress, loneliness and depression. The fact that this is also evident in young-onset dementia came as a surprise to me, and it may offer opportunities to reduce risk in this group too,” added Sebastian Kohler, Professor of Neuroepidemiology at Maastricht University.
Although globally there are around 370,000 new cases of young-onset dementia each year, relatively little research has been done on young-onset dementia.
“Young-onset dementia has a very serious impact, because the people affected usually still have a job, children, and a busy life. The cause is often assumed to be genetic, but for many people we don’t actually know exactly what the cause is. This is why we also wanted to investigate other risk factors in this study, said Dr Stevie Hendriks, Researcher at Maastricht University.