Factors influencing risk of Alzheimer’s

Alcohol and coffee linked to reduced risk of Alzheimer’s – BT – 24 August 2015

Statins, anti-inflammatory drugs, alcoholic drinks and coffee have all been linked to a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s, scientists have said

But diabetes, depression, and high blood pressure can increase it in certain groups, according to a major review of more than 300 studies, which was published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.

Below are all the strange and unexpected substances, conditions, and histories that decrease the risk of getting Alzheimer’s:  

  • having cancer,
  • having heart disease,
  • arthritis or
  • metabolic syndrome
  • taking statins,
  • taking drugs to lower high blood pressure
  • high intake of folic acid reduced the risk by roughly 49%,
  • while oestrogen reduced risk by around 40%, and
  • taking NSAIDs reduced risk by about 26%.
  • history of cancer is associated with a 37% decreased in risk
  • coffee
  • vitamins C and E
  • current smoking (only amongst Western populations),
  • light-to-moderate drinking (one to three alcoholic drinks a day),
  • Stress
  • high body mass index (BMI) in late life.

Meta-analysis of modifiable risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease — Xu et al. — Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry

Background The aetiology of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is believed to involve environmental exposure and genetic susceptibility. The aim of our present systematic review and meta-analysis was to roundly evaluate the association between AD and its modifiable risk factors.


16 906 articles were identified of which 323 with 93 factors met the inclusion criteria for meta-analysis.

Among factors with relatively strong evidence (pooled population >5000) in our meta-analysis, we found:

  • grade I evidence for 4 medical exposures (oestrogen, statin, antihypertensive medications and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs therapy)
  • as well as 4 dietary exposures (folate, vitamin E/C and coffee) as protective factors of AD.

They also noted grade one evidence that

  • one biochemical exposure – hyperhomocysteine, an amino acid manufactured in the body – and
  • one psychological condition – depression –

“significantly increased the risk of developing Alzheimer’s”.

High alcohol consumption or alcoholism showed no significant association [!].

We also found grade I evidence indicative of complex roles of pre-existing disease:

  • frailty, carotid atherosclerosis, hypertension, low diastolic blood pressure, type 2 diabetes mellitus (Asian population) increasing risk
  • history of arthritis, heart disease, metabolic syndrome and cancer decreasing risk
  • lifestyle (low education, high body mass index (BMI) in mid-life and low BMI increasing the risk whereas
  • cognitive activity, current smoking (Western population), light-to-moderate drinking, stress, high BMI in late-life decreasing the risk

in influencing AD risk.



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