Dementia: High body mass, high blood sugar or smoking are increasing your risk

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New research from the Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine estimates that the incidence of dementia worldwide will triple by 2050. Having any of these three conditions could inadvertently be increasing your risk.

Conditions increasing risk of dementia include:

  • High body mass index
  • High blood sugar
  • Smoking

The most recent meta-analysis, including four studies and 16,282 participants, suggested a 1.4-fold increased risk of dementia in the obese.

In another study published in the National Library of Health, obesity and dementia risk was investigated.

The findings of the study were consistent and a higher BMI increased dementia risk when weight was measured.

“Our findings are in agreement with the most recent systematic review and meta-analysis, published in 2016, which identified four cohort studies with BMI assessed in midlife and incident dementia ascertained at older ages,” noted the study.

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In another study high blood sugar increasing the risk of dementia was analysed.

It was found that higher blood glucose levels may contribute to an increased risk of dementia.

This could be done through several potential mechanisms, including acute and chronic hyperglycaemia and insulin resistance and increased microvascular disease of the central nervous system.

Scientists are finding more evidence that could link Type 2 diabetes with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia.

A 2019 Lancet Commission on dementia prevention ranked smoking as third among nine modifiable risk factors for dementia.

A recent review of 37 research studies found that compared to never smokers, current smokers were 30 percent more likely to develop dementia in general and 40 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

There is strong evidence that smoking can increase your risk of developing dementia, said the Alzheimer’s Society.

The health charity added: “Some reasons behind this include the fact that the two most common forms of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, have both been linked to problems with the vascular system (your heart and blood vessels).

“It is known that smoking increases the risk of vascular problems, including via strokes or smaller bleeds in the brain, which are also risk factors for dementia.”

Reduce your risk

Keeping your mind active is likely to reduce your risk of dementia.

Regularly challenging yourself mentally seems to build up the brain’s ability to cope with disease.

Alzheimer’s Society advises ways to help keep the mind sharp to reduce risk which include:

Study for a qualification or course, or just for fun 

Learn a new language 

Do puzzles, crosswords or quizzes 

Play card games or board games 

Read challenging books or write (fiction or non-fiction). 
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