Healthy lifestyle increases life expectancy and reduces years living with Alzheimer’s

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Results of new research suggest that having a healthy lifestyle increases life-expectancy and is also linked to a reduction in the number of years someone may live with Alzheimer’s disease in the future. The medical publication the BMJ published the results of the US based study today (Wednesday 13 April).

What did the scientists do?

Scientists used information from 2,449 US volunteers aged 65 years and older. These study volunteers reported what they ate, how often they did activities like reading or doing a crossword, and how much physical activity they took part in. They also told researchers whether they smoked and how much they drank.

What did the researchers find?

People with a healthy lifestyle were more likely to live longer than those with an unhealthier lifestyle. On average the number of years lived with Alzheimer’s was less than those with poorer healthy lifestyles.

What our expert said:

Dr Rosa Sancho, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, a progressive condition with devastating consequences for millions of people around the world. The chance of developing a disease like Alzheimer’s is affected by a complex mix of age, genetics, and other lifestyle factors.

“While research suggests that living a healthy lifestyle can help stave off dementia, it can also lead to people living longer, which in itself is a risk factor for the condition. In this study, researchers looked at untangling the association between healthy living, increasing life expectancy and Alzheimer’s. While this study cannot fully tease apart cause and effect, it hints that living longer due to a healthy lifestyle does not mean more years living with Alzheimer’s disease.

“There are steps we can all take to keep our brains healthy, stacking the odds in our favour and reducing the risk of developing dementia later in life. Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Think Brain Health campaign has three simple rules you can follow. Visit www.thinkbrainhealth.org.uk to find out more.”

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