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Approved Research

The impact of modifiable risk factors on cognition and dementia

Principal Investigator: Ms Lisa Bransby
Approved Research ID: 66639
Approval date: January 11th 2021

Lay summary

As the search for a cure for Alzheimer's disease dementia remains unsuccessful, it is important to consider other ways to delay or prevent it. A range of modifiable risk factors (i.e., risk factors that can be changed through lifestyle choices), such as: obesity, physical inactivity, depression, sleep difficulties, lack of social contact with others, and low levels of education, have been associated with reductions in memory and thinking abilities, brain structure changes and an increased risk of developing dementia. Most research studies to date have examined how these risk factors are individually related to changes in memory, thinking, brain structure and dementia risk. However, these key risk factors are also highly related to each other, and a large number of people in the community often have more than one risk factor. To better understand how these modifiable (lifestyle) risk factors contribute to an individual's risk of developing dementia, it will be important to look at the effects of more than one risk factor on dementia risk.

The aim of the proposed project is therefore to investigate the combined effect of key modifiable risk factors on memory, thinking, brain structure and overall risk of developing dementia. We will also explore whether the relationships are different in people who also have a non-modifiable (genetic) risk for Alzheimer's disease. The results of this project will have the potential to inform the design of future research studies that may use lifestyle-based approaches to prevent or delay the onset of dementia.