Simple lifestyle and diet changes...
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Susanna C. Larsson, PhD Associate Professor, Karolinska Institutet, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Stockholm, Sweden
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: The causes of Alzheimer’s disease are largely unknown and there are currently no medical treatments that can halt or reverse its effects. This has led to growing interest in identifying risk factors for Alzheimer’s that are amenable to modification. Several observational studies have found that education and various lifestyle and vascular risk factors are associated with the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, but whether these factors actually cause Alzheimer’s is unclear.
We used a genetic epidemiologic method known as ‘Mendelian randomization’. This method involves the use of genes with an impact on the modifiable risk factor – for example, genes linked to education or intelligence – and assessing whether these genes are also associated with the disease. If a gene with an impact on the modifiable risk factor is also associated with the disease, then this provides strong evidence that the risk factor is a cause of the disease.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: Our results, based on aggregated genetic data from 17 000 Alzheimer’s disease patients and 37 000 healthy controls, revealed that genetic variants that predict higher education were clearly associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. A possible explanation for this link is ‘cognitive reserve’, which refers to the ability to recruit and use alternative brain networks or structures not normally used to compensate for brain ageing. Previous research has shown that high education increases this reserve.
We found suggestive evidence for possible associations of intelligence, circulating vitamin D, coffee consumption, and smoking with risk of Alzheimer’s disease. There was no evidence for a causal link with other modifiable factors, such as vascular risk factors.(more…)
- Diabetes affects 1 in 11 adults worldwide and though there is evidence that lifestyle modification (eating healthier diets and exercising about 150 mins a week) and certain medications can prevent or delay diabetes onset, it is not clear which of these strategies offers long-term benefits.
- To answer this question, we compiled all available randomized controlled trials of lifestyle programs and medications to prevent diabetes and analyzed the data to see if the diabetes prevention effects persisted in the long-term. We specifically compared studies where the lifestyle or drug interventions were discontinued to see if the effect was long lasting or diminished when the intervention was stopped.
Department of Nutrition
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Although substantial data support the importance of lifestyle factors for cancer risk, a study published in Science early last year “led some to conclude that only a third of the variation in cancer risk among tissues is attributable to environmental factors or inherited predispositions, while most is due to random mutations arising during stem cell divisions, so-called bad luck.” That study “has been widely covered by the press and has created confusion for the public regarding the preventability of cancer.” In response to that study, we conducted this study to estimate how many cancer cases and deaths in the US can be potentially attributed to common lifestyle factors. Our study showed that about 20-30% of cancer incidences and 40-50% of cancer deaths may be avoided if everyone in the US adopted a lifestyle pattern that is characterized by “never or past smoking (pack-years <5), no or moderate alcohol drinking (1 drink/d for women,2 drinks/d for men), BMI of at least 18.5 but lower than 27.5, and weekly aerobic physical activity of at least 75 vigorous-intensity or 150 moderate-intensity minutes”. (more…)