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One in Three Alzheimer, Dementia Cases Tied to Modifiable Risk Factors

Risk factors differ based on sex and race and ethnicity

WEDNESDAY, May 11, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Midlife obesity, physical inactivity, and low education are the three most prominent modifiable risk factors associated with Alzheimer disease and related dementias (ADRDs), according to a study published online May 9 in JAMA Neurology.

Roch A. Nianogo, M.D., Ph.D., from University of California in Los Angeles, and colleagues estimated the proportion of ADRDs in the United States that are associated with modifiable risk factors and assessed differences by sex and race and ethnicity. Risk factor prevalence were estimated from the 2018 U.S. Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (378,615 individuals), while relative risks for each risk factor were extracted from meta-analyses.

The researchers found that approximately one in three ADRD cases (36.9 percent) were associated with eight modifiable risk factors, the most prominent of which were midlife obesity (17.7 percent), physical inactivity (11.8 percent), and low educational attainment (11.7 percent). Men had higher combined population-attributable risks than women (35.9 versus 30.1 percent), with differences also seen by race and ethnicity (American Indian and Alaska Native individuals, 39 percent; Asian individuals, 16 percent; Black individuals, 40 percent; Hispanic individuals [any race], 34 percent; White individuals, 29 percent).

“Alzheimer risk reduction strategies may be more effective if they target higher-risk groups and consider current risk factor profiles,” the authors write.

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