TUESDAY, June 1, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Adopting healthy behaviors is associated with a reduced risk for dementia, even among those with familial dementia (FD), according to a study presented at the American Heart Association Epidemiology and Prevention/Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health 2021 Scientific Sessions, held virtually from May 20 to 21.

Angelique Brellenthin, Ph.D., from Iowa State University in Ames, and colleagues examined the independent and combined associations of FD and following a healthy lifestyle with the risk for dementia in 302,239 men and women aged 60 ± 5 years from the U.K. Biobank study. Participants were categorized based on how many healthy behaviors they adopted.

The researchers found that 0.6 percent of participants developed dementia during an average follow-up of eight years. After adjustment for confounders, including FD, the hazard ratios were 0.70, 0.58, 0.58, and 0.49 for three, four, five, or six healthy behaviors, respectively, compared with the reference of no more than two healthy behaviors. After adjustment for confounders, including healthy behaviors, the hazard ratio for dementia was 1.72 for those with versus those without FD. In the joint analysis, the hazard ratios for dementia were 0.65, 0.74, and 0.37 for those with FD and at least three behaviors, no FD and no more than two behaviors, and no FD and at least three behaviors, respectively, compared with FD and no more than two healthy behaviors.

“When dementia runs in a family, both genetics and nongenetic factors, such as dietary patterns, physical activity, and smoking status, affect an individual’s overall risk,” Brellenthin said in a statement. “This means there may be opportunities for reducing risk by addressing those nongenetic factors.”

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