Scientists reveal the lifestyle changes that could delay or prevent dementia

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The researchers identified 12 factors that contribute to the risk of developing dementia. Photo credit: Getty.

A new study has discovered that if you lose weight, quit drinking and ditch the cigarettes, you could significantly reduce your risk of dementia.

Exercising more and adopting a healthy diet could ward off the onset of the neurodegenerative disease in more than 40 percent of cases in the UK, the team of 28 world-leading dementia experts discovered.

They identified 12 factors that contribute to the risk of developing dementia and said that they could all be altered to avoid or reduce the likelihood of the condition.

While they stressed that the majority of people develop dementia as a result of genetics and other "uncontrollable" factors, their new findings have shown that people can at least delay the onset of the disease.

The team found three new risk factors associated with dementia – alcohol intake, air pollution and head injuries – and urged policymakers to take immediate action to help lower the rates of the condition.

High blood pressure from middle age is responsible for two per cent of dementia cases, while drinking and obesity account for one percent, and air pollution two percent.

Smokers have almost double the risk, with five percent of cases, and those who don't exercise responsible for two percent.

One of the biggest controllable factors is poor education, which is responsible for seven percent of dementia cases in the UK, while hearing loss in middle age is at eight percent of cases, and brain injuries at three percent.

Professor Clive Ballard, one of the researchers on the study, said the results were an "exciting opportunity" to improve the lives of millions of people.

"Our findings present an exciting opportunity to improve millions of lives across the world by preventing or delaying dementia, through healthier lifestyle to include more exercise, being a healthy weight and stopping smoking, and good medical treatment of risk factors like high blood pressure," he explained.

"This analysis shows there's real potential to improve brain health by taking action," he added.

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