Researchers overlook two biggest risk factors for developing Alzheimer’s disease

In my experience, older people fear getting Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or dementia more than just about any other condition, except perhaps cancer. And much of that fear stems from the great unknown.

Thankfully, some pioneering scientists are finally starting to crack the code of brain diseases. And new research out of the U.K. identified 12 clear risk factors for developing AD and dementia.

Unfortunately, as I’ll explain later, the scientists failed to mention the two biggest risk factors for developing AD. (And they’re ones that are so easy to fix!)

But first, let’s take a look at the risk factors they did identify…

Twelve risk factors for dementia

In 2017, the U.K. Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention, Intervention, and Care issued a report that identified nine risk factors for developing AD and dementia. At the time, they said that these factors caused one-third of all dementia cases.

The original nine risk factors were:

  1. Depression
  2. Diabetes
  3. Educational deficit
  4. Hearing loss
  5. High blood pressure
  6. Obesity
  7. Physical inactivity
  8. Smoking
  9. Social isolation

Then, last summer, the Lancet Commission added three more risk factors to the list:

  1. Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  2. Excess alcohol intake
  3. Air pollution

The Commission said these 12 factors, taken all together, now account for 40 percent of dementia cases. So, let’s take a closer look at the “new” risk factors…

More insight into the three “new” risk factors

Several previously published studies had already linked TBI with significantly higher, long-term risk of developing dementia. And the Lancet Commission said TBI typically occurs as a result of a bicycle, car, or motorcycle accident. In addition, military and firearm exposure can also cause TBI…as well as recreational, contact sports—such as boxing, equestrian, football, and soccer.

Of course, excess alcohol intake was also added as a risk factor. But remember, the effects of alcohol are complex…

As I often report, a wealth of studies link moderate alcohol consumption with brain health, especially among older people. In fact, a recent study found that moderate drinkers are significantly more likely than teetotalers to live to age 85 without developing dementia.

That being said, the brain benefits of alcohol consumption exhibit a “u-shaped” association…which means the biggest benefits come to those in the happy, moderate middle. And clearly, too much alcohol intake can harm the brain. Which would explain why people who abuse alcohol have a three-times higher risk of developing dementia.

Air pollution—as found in congested, urban areas—was the third new risk factor added to the Commission’s list. And this factor supports the study I presented last week that found a clear association between air pollution and brain shrinkage in older women. Plus, as that study found, there’s one simple nutrient that can prevent (and possibly even reverse) the harm caused to the brain by air pollution.

Now, the researchers also assessed how much each factor contributed to dementia with a useful analysis called “population attributable risk” (PAR), which we used at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) when I was there.

In my experience, PAR can really help researchers gain a sense of perspective on a long laundry list of risk factors. And in this case, the PAR analysis revealed that the least-important risk factors were alcohol, diabetes, and obesity—as each contributed to just 1 percent or less of risk.

Next up came high blood pressure, which contributed to less than 2 percent of the risk—probably because, like alcohol, it’s also complex as a risk factor. Indeed, studies show that “moderately” high systolic blood pressure of 130 to 150 mmHg improves blood flow, oxygen, energy, and nutrients to the brain. But again, there’s a “u-shaped” association. And prolonged, extremely high blood pressure of 170 mmHg or more is a risk factor for vascular dementia and stroke.

The other factors—such as high blood sugar and inactivity—registered more substantial scores, according to PAR. Still, as I mentioned earlier, this new Lancet Commission report fell short in one major way…

Why leave out the most-important risk factors?

This report failed to include diet or sleep habits in the laundry list of risk factors. But these two factors probably account for the remaining 60 percent of AD and dementia risk!

Do they not know about the major clinical trial at UCLA and elsewhere that found natural approaches, primarily diet and nutrition, can actually reverse AD and dementia in 90 percent of cases?! And how about all the well-designed studies in recent decades linking poor sleep and AD?!

These obvious and glaring omissions certainly make me question the Lancet Commission’s entire agenda. Indeed, the organization promotes the consumption of highly processed, artificial, fake meat. So, they probably aren’t a credible source for dietary information anyway.

Instead, I urge you to check out my Complete Alzheimer’s Fighting Protocol. This innovative learning tool includes all the natural steps and nutritional advice used to prevent and reverse AD, as outlined in the original UCLA protocol. Plus, it contains important, additional steps, which I added based on 40 years of my own, personal research. To learn more about this comprehensive protocol, or to enroll today, simply click here.


Lancet Commission, Lancet, published on-line July 30,2020.