Dementia risk factors and prevention Some things can increase your risk of getting dementia, including your age, genes and lifestyle. There are also ways you can reduce your risk. Information What can increase a person's risk of dementia? There are different types of risk factors for dementia, including medical, lifestyle and environmental factors. It is possible to avoid some risk factors, while others cannot be controlled. Advice What do we mean by risk factors for dementia? A risk factor is something that affects your chance of developing dementia. Find out more about example risk factors and how risks for dementia are identified. Advice Risk factors you can't change Discover how age, genetics, gender and ethnicity can affect your risk of developing dementia. Advice Can genes cause dementia? Around 1 in 4 people aged 55 years and over has a close birth relative with dementia. Find out what part genes play in dementia and how genetics can affect the risk of developing the condition. Advice How to reduce your risk of Alzheimer's and other dementias Although getting older is the biggest risk factor for dementia, evidence shows there are things you can do to help reduce your own risk. These include keeping active, eating healthily and exercising your mind. Risk factors - understanding the evidence The newspapers are full of headlines about things that can help prevent dementia or things that increase your risk. This section explores the research evidence behind each topic. Research High blood pressure and dementia A lifelong approach to good health is the best way to lower your risk of dementia. Learn more about the effects of high blood pressure and the risk factors of dementia. Research Physical exercise and dementia Of all the lifestyle changes that have been studied, taking regular physical exercise appears to be one of the best things that you can do to reduce your risk of getting dementia. Research Alternative therapies Some alternative therapies might benefit people with dementia. They work by treating the conditions related to dementia, such as sleep problems or agitation. Research Mediterranean diet and dementia Evidence shows that a diet rich in fruit, vegetables and cereals, and low in red meat and sugar could help reduce dementia risks. Research Head injury, sport and dementia Some research does suggest traumatic brain injuries may increase the risk of dementia. However, there is still much more research to be done to understand this complex issue, particularly in relation to contact sports like football (soccer) and rugby. Research Smoking and dementia There is strong evidence that smoking can increase your risk of dementia. Not everyone who smokes will get dementia, but stopping smoking is thought to reduce your risk down to the level of non-smokers. Research Alcohol and dementia Alcohol consumption in excess has well-documented negative effects on both short- and long-term health, one of which is brain damage that can lead to Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia. Research Infections and dementia Several infections have been suggested to increase risk of Alzheimer's disease, but the evidence behind it is not clear cut. Research Aluminium, metals and dementia The ability of metals from food or cookware to cause Alzheimer's disease is a regular concern in the news. Here's the evidence behind the presence of metals such as copper, zinc, iron and aluminium. Research Air pollution and dementia Air pollution has been a focus of several studies on cognitive impairment and dementia risk. There is evidence that tiny air pollution particles can enter the brain, but at this time we can’t say if they play a role in the development of dementia. There is a strong case for further research into the effect of air pollution on brain health. Research Hormones and dementia Learn about hormones and other reasons women may be more likely to develop dementia than men. Research Brain training and dementia Brain training includes activities to challenge the brain, such as crosswords, Sudoku puzzles and bespoke computer games. Here we discuss the evidence and the claims made by commerical game providers. Research Omega-3 and dementia It is often said that fish is 'brain food', and you may have read the speculation that omega-3 in the diet can help reduce your risk of dementia by improving heart and brain health. Research Cholesterol and dementia Research suggests a possible connection between high cholesterol and dementia. Research Antioxidants and dementia There are different types of antioxidant, each of which has a slightly different role. We explain the general term 'antioxidants' and provide guidance around their potential benefits in relation to dementia. Research Cinnamon and dementia Though some of the extracts of cinnamon may warrant investigation to try and establish new treatments, cinnamon itself is not a treatment for Alzheimer's disease. Research Caffeine and dementia We explore the effect of caffeine, and by extension coffee, to establish whether there is a link between this and developing dementia. Research Turmeric and dementia There is currently limited evidence from research studies in people to suggest that turmeric, which is a type of spice, can prevent or treat dementia. Research General anaesthetics and dementia Complications with research means it is not clear whether general anaesthetics are known to increase dementia risk. Anyone who is going to have surgery should talk to their doctor first about the possible risks and benefits. Research Genetic testing kits and dementia The genetics behind Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia is complex, and DNA testing kits like 23andme cannot tell the complete story about a person's risk of developing the condition. Research Sleep and dementia risk People with dementia often have issues with sleep with their memory seemingly worse after a bad night. However, the evidence is unclear on whether poor sleep is a risk factor for dementia.