Factors that Increase Alzheimer's Risk
While there are ways to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's and dementia there are also ways to significantly increase the risk of developing the disease.
Controlling and minimizing these habits plays an important role in minimizing risk of developing the disease.
Regular Poor Sleep Increases The Risk of Alzheimer's
During sleep the brain repairs and prepares itself for the next day. It removes waste products, repairs damage, and produces new brain cells.
When sleep is interrupted, so are these restorative processes. Chronic interruption, like that associated with sleep apnea, and regular sleep deprivation, can disrupt these processes enough to result in damage to the brain and an increased risk of Alzheimer's.
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Smoking Damages the Brain and Heart
It has been long known that smoking damages both the heart and brain, but recent evidence has emerged showing that smoking does more damage than previously believed.
In addition to the well-known brain shrinkage associated with smoking, smoking can also double your risk of developing Alzheimer's. Fortunately, many individuals see a significant improvement of their symptoms after quitting smoking.
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Over-Consumption of Alcohol is Dangerous
A recent study found that moderate drinkers were 20% less likely to develop Alzheimer's than non-drinkers. The same study found that those who regularly over-consumed were three times more likely to develop a dementia as those who did not.
Over-consumption of alcohol was especially common in study participants diagnosed with early-onset dementia and Alzheimer's.
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Common anti-anxiety medications, benzodiazepines, have been found to increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's.
Individuals who were prescribed one of these anti-anxiety medications for 3 to 6 months were found to be 32% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. Individuals who were prescribed it for more than six months were found to increase their risk of developing Alzheimer's by more than 80%.
Researchers theorize that these drugs may interfere with the brain's ability to repair itself and remove the waste products associated with Alzheimer's.
Learn More: Benzodiazepines and Alzheimer's