Various health and lifestyle factors are associated with an increased risk of early-onset dementia. Appropriate changes such as reducing alcohol consumption and adequate intake of vitamin D can, in turn, significantly reduce the risk of dementia.
A new study involving experts from the University of Oxford examined various factors associated with the onset of early-onset dementia. The results were published in the specialist journal “JAMA Neurology”.
Data from over 350,000 people evaluated
The team used data from 356,052 participants from the UK Biobank study. All participants were under the age of 65 and had no diagnosis of dementia at their initial examination. Overall, the data was evaluated for the period from May 2022 to April 2023.
The researchers examined many different risk factors for dementia, ranging from genetic predispositions to lifestyle and environmental influences.
These factors influence the risk of dementia
Lower formal education, low socioeconomic status, genetic variations and various lifestyle factors such as alcohol consumption and social isolation were found to play an important role in the development of dementia under the age of 65, the team reports.
This also applied to various health problems and illnesses, such as vitamin D deficiency, depression, strokes, hearing damage and heart disease, the experts added.
Risk reduction possible
The results also suggest that measures may be able to be taken to reduce the risk of dementia by influencing a number of different factors, explains study author Professor David Llewellyn.
However, “there is still much to learn in our mission to prevent, detect and better treat dementia in all its forms,” Llewellyn said in a press release.
When dementia occurs at a young age (under 65 years of age), a genetic cause is often assumed. However, for many sufferers, the exact cause remains unclear and the new study reveals possible underlying risk factors.
“We already knew from research on people who develop dementia at an older age that there are a number of modifiable risk factors,” adds study author Professor Sebastian Köhler.
“In addition to physical factors, mental health also plays an important role, including avoiding chronic stress, loneliness and depression,” adds the doctor.
“Our research is groundbreaking as we have found that the risk of early-onset dementia can be reduced. We believe this could herald a new era in measures to reduce new cases,” adds study author Dr. Janice Ranson added. (as)