According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are several risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. These risk factors include:
- Age. The number one risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s is age. One in fifty people between the ages of sixty-five and seventy will have some form of dementia, compared to one in five after the age of eighty. The reason age increases the chances of dementia is there can be changes to DNA, cell structure, and nerve cells, or the body can be unable to repair itself properly. A person can also suffer from high blood pressure or disease, and these problems increase dementia risks.
- Alcohol. People who abuse alcohol over a long period of time have a greater chance of developing dementia, although people who consume moderate amounts have a greater chance of not developing it.
- Diet. A person who eats saturated fats and a high fat diet develops narrow arteries and that affects vascular health and increases a person’s risk of vascular dementia.
- Exercise. Regular exercise helps to protect the heart and the vascular system, which then reduces the chances of dementia.
- Gender. Women have a slightly greater chance of developing dementia than men, but that can be because women tend to live longer.
- Genetics. Certain genes do increase a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, and if you have a sibling or a parent who develops dementia early in life, it increases your chances for dementia. However, your chances are only slightly higher than someone who has no one in his or her family with dementia.
- Medical History. Certain medical conditions increase your chances for dementia. These include Down’s syndrome, HIV, multiple sclerosis, and Huntington’s disease. In addition, people who suffer repeated head injuries have a much greater chance of developing dementia than the general public.
- Metals and Minerals. Although many people believe that aluminum causes Alzheimer’s, scientists have found no connection. On the other hand, copper and zinc may be needed for brain processes.
- Smoking. Because smoking causes harmful effects and leads to narrow arteries, people who smoke have a greater risk of developing dementia.