By analyzing more than 350,000 people under the age of 65 across the UK, a group of European university researchers have identified several risk factors for early-onset dementia.
The new research used data from the British study UK Biobankpublished on December 26, 2023 in the magazine JAMA Neuroscience. The team evaluated a wide range of potential causes for the neurological condition, from genetic predisposition to environmental and lifestyle influences.
In the study's final model, several factors were significantly associated with a higher risk of early-onset dementia, including: low formal education; Low socioeconomic status. The presence of allele 2 of ε4 lipoprotein in the body; Alcohol use disorders. social isolation; Vitamin D deficiency; High levels of C-reactive protein. Less grip force. Hearing loss orthostatic hypotension; Apoplexy; diabetes; heart disease; And finally depression. As a result, the findings challenge the idea that genetics is the only cause of this condition.
This is the first time that the results indicate that it is possible to reduce the risk of early dementia by targeting health and lifestyle factors. “We believe this could herald a new era in interventions to reduce new cases of this condition,” he comments. In the current situation Janice Ranson is a senior researcher at the University of Exeter, England.
According to Sebastian Köhler, co-author of the study and professor of neuroepidemiology at Maastricht University (Netherlands), the team already knew, from previous research on people who develop dementia in old 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,” Kohler highlights. “The fact that this is equally evident in early onset dementia was surprising to me and may provide opportunities to reduce risk in this group as well.”
It is estimated that early-onset dementia accounts for 370,000 new cases worldwide annually. The condition is serious, as those affected usually still have jobs, children and busy lives, according to Steffi Hendricks, a researcher from Maastricht who also participated in the study. “It's often assumed that the cause is genetic, but for many people, we don't know exactly what the cause is. So we also wanted to investigate other risk factors in this study,” he says.
For co-author David Llewellyn, a professor at the University of Exeter, there is still a lot to learn when it comes to preventing, identifying and treating all forms of dementia in a more targeted way. However, the new research represents a major advance in this field. “This is the largest and most powerful study of its kind ever conducted,” he highlights. “Excitingly, for the first time, it reveals that we can take action to reduce the risk of this debilitating condition by targeting a variety of different factors.”
“Friendly zombie guru. Avid pop culture scholar. Freelance travel geek. Wannabe troublemaker. Coffee specialist.”