Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

Font Size

Study: 1 in 3 Alzheimer's Cases 'Preventable'

By Peter Russell
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Sheena Meredith, MD

July 14, 2014 -- About one-third of Alzheimer's disease cases are preventable, according to research by the University of Cambridge, England.

The study identifies seven risk factors, with lack of exercise topping the list.

A previous study published in 2011 suggested as many as half of cases of Alzheimer's disease could be prevented, but the researchers of the new study say these earlier findings are likely to be less accurate because they did not take into account overlapping risk factors.

Soaring Number of Cases

Current estimates suggest that by 2050, more than 106.2 million people worldwide will be living with Alzheimer’s -- a huge increase from the 30.8 million people affected by the disease in 2010.

Researchers analyzed population-based data to work out the seven top risk factors for developing Alzheimer's disease. These are:

  1. Lack of exercise
  2. Diabetes
  3. High blood pressure in middle age
  4. Obesity in middle age
  5. Depression
  6. Smoking
  7. Low education

The team then looked at how reducing each of these factors would cut the number of cases of the disease.

The results varied according to whether they looked at the U.K., US., Europe, or the world as a whole.

Cutting Risk Factors

The researchers estimated that by reducing the relative risk posed by each lifestyle factor by just 10%, nearly 9 million cases of dementia could be prevented by 2050.

Worldwide, low education was identified as the main risk factor, followed by smoking and lack of exercise.

The research is published in the journal Lancet Neurology.

A Healthier Old Age

Study researcher Carol Brayne, MD, from the Institute of Public Health at the University of Cambridge, says in a statement: "Although there is no single way to prevent dementia, we may be able to take steps to reduce our risk of developing dementia at older ages. We know what many of these factors are, and that they are often linked.

"Simply tackling physical inactivity, for example, will reduce levels of obesity, hypertension, and diabetes, and prevent some people from developing dementia as well as allowing a healthier old age in general -- it’s a win-win situation.”

Today on WebMD

Remember your finger
When it’s more than just forgetfulness.
senior man with serious expression
Which kinds are treatable?
senior man
Common symptoms to look for.
mri scan of human brain
Can drinking red wine reverse the disease?
eating blueberries
Colored mri of brain
Close up of elderly couple holding hands
mature woman
Woman comforting ailing mother
Senior woman with serious expression