"The idea that Alzheimer's is entirely genetic and unpreventable is perhaps the greatest misconception about the disease," says Gary Small, M.D., director of the UCLA Center on Aging.
Researchers now know that Alzheimer's, like heart disease and cancer, develops over decades and can be influenced by lifestyle factors including cholesterol, blood pressure, obesity, depression, education, nutrition, sleep and mental, physical and social activity.
Five Ways to Save Your Kids from Alzheimer's Now
Alzheimer's isn't just a disease that starts in old age.
What happens to your child's brain seems to have a dramatic impact on his or her likelihood of Alzheimer's many decades later.
Here are five things you can do now to help save your child from Alzheimer's and memory loss later in life, according to the latest research.
1. Prevent head blows: Insist your child wear a helmet during biking, skating, skiing, baseball, football, hockey and all contact sports.
A major blow as well as tiny re petitive unnoticed concussions can cause damage, leading to memory loss and Alzheimer's years later.
2. Encourage language skills: A teenage girl who is a superior writer is eight times more likely to escape Alzheimer's in late life than a teen with poor linguistic skills.
Teaching young children to be fluent in two or more languages makes them less vulnerable to Alzheimer's.
3. Insist your child go to college: Education is a powerful Alzheimer's deterrent .
The more years of formal schooling, the lower the odds.
Most Alzheimer's prone: teenage drop outs. For each year of education, your risk of dementia drops 11%, says a recent University of Cambridge study.
4. Provide stimulation: Keep your child's brain busy with physical, mental and social activities and novel experiences.
All these contribute to a bigger, better functioning brain with more so-called 'cognitive reserve.' High cognitive reserve protects against memory decline and Alzheimer's.
Those overfed sugar, especially high fructose in soft drinks, saturated fat and trans fats become overweight and diabetic, with smaller brains and impaired memories as they age, a prelude to Alzheimer's.