- People with type 2 diabetes may be at increased risk of dementia.
- Researchers are still working to understand how lifestyle factors can affect dementia risk.
- Data from a recent study shows that people with type 2 diabetes have a lower risk of dementia if they follow certain healthy lifestyle habits.
Dementia is a chronic condition that can be debilitating. Because there is no cure for dementia, people often wonder what steps they can take to reduce their risk of dementia. A recently published study in neurology found that in people with diabetes, adopting certain healthy lifestyle habits was associated with a reduced risk of developing dementia.
Some risk factors for dementia cannot be changed, such as B. Older age or family history. However, people can change others
The researchers in this current study looked at how seven healthy lifestyle habits affected the risk of dementia. They looked at how these habits helped people with diabetes and those without diabetes. Habits included:
The researchers used the UK Biobank for their data collection. They included participants aged 60 years or older without dementia at the start of the study. They specifically excluded people with type 1 diabetes from data collection so they could focus on those with type 2 diabetes.
Researchers assigned participants a healthy lifestyle score based on the seven behavioral factors listed above. Each category had a definition of what researchers considered healthy. For example, someone was classified as regularly physically active if they engaged in “at least 150 minutes/week of moderate activity or 75 minutes/week of vigorous activity, or an equivalent combination.”
The study included more than 160,000 participants, including more than 12,000 with diabetes. The researchers followed the participants for an average of 12 years. They found that healthy lifestyle factors were associated with a lower risk of developing dementia. However, this risk reduction was even more pronounced in participants with diabetes.
The author of the study, Dr. Yingli Lu, Ph.D., from Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine in China, pointed out Medical news today:
“Our results show that while patients with diabetes have a higher risk of developing dementia later than patients without diabetes, maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle can significantly reduce this risk.”
Non-study author and Alzheimer’s researcher Jeroen Mahieu, Ph.D., noted MNT:
“The main finding of this study is that following a healthy lifestyle significantly reduces the risk of developing dementia in diabetic patients; significantly more than without diabetes. This is important given the greater prevalence of dementia in diabetic patients. However, due to the nature of the data and research design, we should be cautious about interpreting these effects as causal.”
The study suggests that incorporating healthy lifestyle habits can reduce the risk of dementia, especially in people with diabetes. However, the study also had some limitations.
First, information about lifestyle behaviors was self-reported, increasing the risk of errors in data collection. Second, the researchers collected data on lifestyle factors at baseline and collected data on changes in lifestyle factors. The study did not collect data on lifestyle factors for participants before they developed diabetes.
The researchers also found that participants they had to exclude due to lack of data were more likely to have lower education and socioeconomic status, which may have impacted the results. Based on the data collection methods, the research team acknowledged that they may have misclassified participants with diabetes or prediabetes as non-diabetics.
In addition, although several confounding factors, such as e.g. taking medications, were adjusted that there could be unknown or unmeasured factors that were not taken into account. The study also included mainly Caucasian participants, indicating that more diverse studies will be needed in the future.
Nonetheless, the study adds to a growing body of data on how lifestyle choices affect health. explained dr. Lu MNT:
“Our data can have important implications for physicians and other healthcare professionals treating people with diabetes. [They] should consider recommending lifestyle changes to their patients. Such changes can not only improve overall health, but also help prevent or delay the onset of dementia in people with diabetes. Future research is needed to determine how combined healthy lifestyles affect cognitive outcomes in diabetes and possible mechanisms.”