Beat the Alzheimer's Gene

By Editorial Staff

At least when it comes to reducing your risk of cognitive decline. That's the exciting conclusion from a new study that evaluated 60-77-year-olds with risk factors for memory disorders including Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

Researchers found that lifestyle counseling on nutrition, exercise, cognitive exercises, and other methods known to improve brain health reduced the risk of cognitive decline even in seniors with the APOE4 gene. This gene is the strongest risk factor for Alzheimer's disease, present in an estimated 25 percent of people diagnosed with the disease.

Published in JAMA Neurology, the two-year study also found that carriers of the gene may benefit more from lifestyle counseling / intervention than those without it, although both groups (carriers and noncarriers) benefited according to the study, which measured cognitive decline over time via a battery of neuropsychological tests.

"Many people worry that genetic risk factors for dementia may thwart potential benefits from healthy lifestyle changes. We were very happy to see that this was not the case in our intervention, which was started early, before the onset of substantial cognitive impairment," said lead study author  Prof. Alina Solomon in an article on

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