Couch potatoes face same chance of dementia as those with genetic risk factors

January 10, 2017
Jennifer Heisz, assistant professor of kinesiology, McMaster University Credit: McMaster University

Sedentary older adults with no genetic risk factors for dementia may be just as likely to develop the disease as those who are genetically predisposed, according to a major study which followed more than 1,600 Canadians over five years.

The findings, published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, shed new light on the relationship between genes, and .

Researchers, who tracked participants in the Canadian Study of Health and Aging, found that while carriers of a variant of the 'apolipoprotein E' genotype are more likely to develop dementia, inactivity dramatically increases the risk for non-carriers.

"The important message here is that being inactive may completely negate the protective effects of a healthy set of genes," says Jennifer Heisz, an assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University and co-author of the study.

"Given that most individuals are not at genetic risk, physical exercise may be an effective prevention strategy, " she says.

Approximately 47.5-million people worldwide are living with dementia. That number is expected to surge to 115.4 million by the year 2050. With no known cure, there is an urgent need to explore, identify and change that can reduce dementia risk, say researchers.

"Although age is an important marker for dementia, there is more and more research showing the link between genetic and lifestyle factors," said Parminder Raina, a co-author and professor in the Department of Health Evidence and Impact at McMaster. "This research shows that exercise can mitigate the risk of dementia for people without the variant of the apolipoprotein genotype. However, more research is needed to determine the implications from a public health perspective."

"A physically active lifestyle helps the brain operate more effectively. However, if a physician were to ask us today what type of exercise to prescribe for a patient to reduce the risk of dementia, the honest answer is 'we really don't know'," says Barbara Fenesi, a postdoctoral fellow at McMaster University and lead author on the study.

In a separate ongoing study, researchers are comparing the possible benefits of high-intensity training (HIIT) versus moderate continuous training (MCT) and stretching in older adults.

Explore further: Exercise results in larger brain size and lowered dementia risk

Related Stories

Exercise results in larger brain size and lowered dementia risk

August 2, 2016
Using the landmark Framingham Heart Study to assess how physical activity affects the size of the brain and one's risk for developing dementia, UCLA researchers found an association between low physical activity and a higher ...

Dementia study lists everyday factors that may influence risk

October 12, 2016
Experts have created a shortlist of environmental factors that may contribute to our risk of developing dementia.

Targeted preventive measures for hip fracture are needed for persons with Alzheimer's disease

December 7, 2016
The hip fracture risk factors are generally similar among those with and without Alzheimer's disease, according to a recent study from the University of Eastern Finland. However, the incidence of hip fracture is higher among ...

Healthy living linked to higher brain function, delay of dementia

November 1, 2016
It's tempting to dip into the leftover Halloween treats, but new research out of York University has found eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, combined with regular exercise, leads to better cognitive functioning for ...

New figures show only 25% of British adults think dementia risk can be reduced

March 8, 2016
A leading dementia expert is calling for greater public awareness of the risk factors for dementia, following a new poll showing only a quarter of British adults think it is possible to reduce their risk of developing the ...

Study highlights measures to boost dementia prevention research

October 5, 2016
A new study by Alzheimer's Research UK has highlighted the lack of research into dementia prevention and called for changes to the way risk reduction studies are funded and carried out, in a bid to boost evidence on dementia ...

Recommended for you

Lifestyle changes to stave off Alzheimer's? Hints, no proof

July 20, 2017
There are no proven ways to stave off Alzheimer's, but a new report raises the prospect that avoiding nine key risks starting in childhood just might delay or even prevent about a third of dementia cases around the world.

Steering an enzyme's 'scissors' shows potential for stopping Alzheimer's disease

July 19, 2017
The old real estate adage about "location, location, location" might also apply to the biochemical genesis of Alzheimer's disease, according to new research from the University of British Columbia.

Brain scans may change care for some people with memory loss

July 19, 2017
Does it really take an expensive brain scan to diagnose Alzheimer's? Not everybody needs one but new research suggests that for a surprising number of patients whose memory problems are hard to pin down, PET scans may lead ...

Can poor sleep boost odds for Alzheimer's?

July 18, 2017
(HealthDay)— Breathing problems during sleep may signal an increased risk for Alzheimer's disease, a trio of studies suggests.

Hearing is believing: Speech may be a clue to mental decline

July 17, 2017
Your speech may, um, help reveal if you're uh ... developing thinking problems. More pauses, filler words and other verbal changes might be an early sign of mental decline, which can lead to Alzheimer's disease, a study suggests.

Bacteria found in Alzheimer's brains

July 17, 2017
Researchers in the UK have used DNA sequencing to examine bacteria in post-mortem brains from patients with Alzheimer's disease. Their findings suggest increased bacterial populations and different proportions of specific ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.