Experts Say Your Race Affects Your Dementia Risk

Dementia is an illness that everyone knows is possible yet nobody wants to think about getting. However, there are factors that put certain people at a greater risk than others. Genetics and lifestyle habits have been widely accepted as playing a role in your chances of having dementia. But now, experts say race plays a role, too.

Doctor using a mobile phone notes scan brain results

Researchers say race plays a role in dementia risk. | iStock.com/utah778

Your genes may determine your likelihood for dementia or Alzheimer’s

If someone in your family was diagnosed with dementia, you have a greater risk of having the disease as well. Certain genes can be passed on to members of the same family, so if you have a strong family history of the disease, you may worry about having it. It’s important to note that if only one member of the family has had the disease, your chances probably aren’t too high. Plus, genes are only one part of the equation. Don’t think that just because you have a family history means you’re guaranteed to get the disease.

Your diet and daily habits can also play a role

There are several lifestyle changes you can make to improve your brain function and prolong your brain’s health. And taking these steps also means you’re reducing your risk of dementia. Consuming a diet that is high in sugars, processed foods, and certain fats leads to the nutritional decline of our bodies. And a lack of nutrients means the brain isn’t getting the food it needs to stay healthy. Plus, exercise has been proven to benefit the body in many ways including lowering the dementia risk. If you eat healthy and exercise, you reduce your risk for dementia. Plus, “exercising” your brain by learning something new (such as taking a cooking class or learning an instrument) are also great lifestyle choices that can prolong your brain’s health.

New research shows that your race may also play a role in your dementia risk

Researchers at University College and Kings College in London found that black men had a 28% greater risk of developing dementia in their lifetime than white men, and black women had a 25% greater risk than white women. The study followed 2.5 million people to determine if race plays a role in the chances of a diagnosis. The study also found that Asian women had an 18% lower chance of dementia than white women, and Asian men had a 12% lower chance than white men.

The study is the first of its kind to analyze ethnicity to determine whether it plays a role in dementia diagnoses. However, since it’s the first, more research still needs to be done. According to Daily Mail, the study did not go the way scientists anticipated. The much higher likelihood of black men and women to Asian men and women was more than what scientists thought, so further research needs to be done.

While all of these factors might play a role in your chances of having dementia, you can’t rely on only one of them to determine your chances. Genetics don’t always go the way you might think, and lifestyle habits don’t necessarily mean you’re immune to the disease.

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