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.

Advice
Use the Alzheimer's Society interactive tool to understand how different factors can affect your risk of dementia. Risk factors include age, genetics, lifestyle choices and health conditions.
Advice
Is dementia inherited? Find out what part genes play in dementia and how genetics can affect the risk of developing the condition.
Advice
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

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

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
Some alternative therapies might benefit people with dementia. They work by treating the conditions related to dementia, such as sleep problems or agitation.
Research
Evidence shows that a diet rich in fruit, vegetables and cereals, and low in red meat and sugar could help reduce dementia risks.
Research

There is increasing evidence of a link between such brain injuries and dementia. Find out more about head injuries as a risk factor.

Research

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 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

Several infections have been suggested to increase risk of Alzheimer's disease, but the evidence behind it is not clear cut. 

Research

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 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

Learn about hormones and other reasons women may be more likely to develop dementia than men.

Research

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
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

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

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

We explore the effect of caffeine, and by extension coffee, to establish whether there is a link between this and developing dementia.

Research
Curcumin is an extract of turmeric that has been shown to break down amyloid-beta plaques (a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease) in lab-based (in vitro) studies.
Research

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

The genetics behind Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia is complex and DNA testing kits cannot tell the complete story about a person's risk of developing the condition.

Research

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.