New Study Highlights Controllable Causes of Early Onset Dementia

(Daily360.com) – A recent study out of the U.K. is attempting to find causal links for the growing numbers of people suffering from what’s called early onset dementia. The study comes from Maastricht University in the Netherlands and the U.K.’s University of Exeter and they’ve come up with a preliminary list of 15 potential risk factors that may contribute to the condition.

The lead study author Stevie Hendriks, PhD, admits the data they are presenting are wide-ranging and will need further examining. The key belief among this group that all dementia is hereditary may not be an accurate assessment. The study consisted of just over 355,000 participants, all of whom are 65 years of age or younger. They were studied from 2006 to 2010 with a follow up conducted in 2021 for English and Scottish participants and in 2018 for those in Wales.

The research led the scientists to outline 39 potential risk factors in total with 15 factors being “significantly associated” with potential dementia. Among the list of 15 were social isolation, low socioeconomic status, low formal education, vitamin D deficiency, high levels of C-reactive protein, hearing problems, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, depression, and heart disease. Also of note was the inclusion of both alcohol abuse and abstinence from alcohol entirely. Among the genetic risk factors the biggest one they identified was 2 apolipoprotein ε4 allele, the lipid and receptor binding problem which has long been believed to be the issue leading to Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers acknowledge that more research needs to be done. For example, they are unsure why both abstaining from alcohol and over-indulging in alcohol are both factors. They are speculating that those who abstain may be doing so due to taking medications for medical conditions which would be a mitigating health factor. However, that is speculative and more research needs to be conducted.

Roughly 370,000 people per year 65 years of age or under are diagnosed with early onset dementia. The researcher’s goal is to identify the root causes and help at-risk people, many of whom have young families and children, avoid the arduous future dementia brings.

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