Interrupting the Alzheimer’s pathway

27 May 2018

There are currently more than 400,000 people living with dementia in Australia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia and is characterised by the deterioration of memory and other mental functions.

While there are medications and management strategies that may slow the decline in Alzheimer’s symptoms, there is currently no cure for the disease.

Aside from older age and the presence of the apolipoprotein E (APOE) e4 allele, the causes of Alzheimer’s are largely unknown. It’s thought that some lifestyle behaviours may be associated with Alzheimer’s risk including obesity, smoking, alcohol consumption, diet, physical activity and education level. The evidence to support the association between these factors and Alzheimer’s risk is mixed, so researchers looked more closely at the association between some of these modifiable risk factors and Alzheimer’s disease.

Potentially modifiable risk factors in a number of categories were included for analysis including socioeconomic, lifestyle/dietary, cardio-metabolic and inflammatory. Researchers focused on factors within these categories that had been identified as having the most consistent evidence for an association with Alzheimer’s disease.

Education attainment was significantly associated with lower odds of Alzheimer’s disease in this study, with other factors such as smoking not achieving the same level of impact.

Implications

Other studies have linked education levels to dementia. These results corroborate the suggestion that obtaining increasing levels of education might be a protective factor reducing risk of Alzheimer’s development.

Last Reviewed: 27 May 2018
© Norman Swan Medical Communications.

References

Larsson, S et al. (2017). Modifiable pathways in Alzheimer’s disease: Mendelian randomisation analysis.  BMJ 359: j5375. doi: 10.1136/bmj.j5375.