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Educating the Brain to Avoid Dementia: Can Mental Exercise Prevent Alzheimer Disease?

  • Margaret Gatz
  • Published: January 25, 2005
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0020007

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Diet and lifestyle are important risk-modifying factors for Alzheimer's disease

Posted by plosmedicine on 30 Mar 2009 at 23:39 GMT

Author: William Grant
Position: President
Institution: SUNARC
Submitted Date: January 25, 2005
Published Date: January 26, 2005
This comment was originally posted as a “Reader Response” on the publication date indicated above. All Reader Responses are now available as comments.

The statement in this article, At least half of the explanation for individual differences in susceptibility to Alzheimer disease is genetic, is, in my opinion, incorrect. As the one who led the team debating the authors of the Ashford and Mortimer [2002] article supporting this statement at the 2001 conference on Alzheimer disease (AD) in Cincinnati (Challenging Views of Alzheimer Disease), I think that the evidence that dietary and lifestyle factors explains the majority of the individual risk for AD in the U.S. is very strong. My original paper in 1997 found that total dietary fat and energy intake were the most important dietary risk factors, while fish and cereal intake were the most important risk reduction factors. These findings have been generally confirmed by Drs. Luchsinger and Morris and others. The reason I did my study was that the Honolulu Heart Study reported that Japanese American men in Hawaii had 2.5 times the risk of AD than native Japanese. African-Americans have about 4 times the risk of AD of native Nigerians. If genetics were the primary risk factor, those living in the U.S. would have a risk of developing AD very similar to those living in their native country. The reason this is not the case is that the American diet provides too much food, which is a particular problem for those genetically predisposed to AD.

Ashford JW, Mortimer JA (2002) Non-familial Alzheimer's disease is mainly due to genetic factors. J Alzheimers Dis 4: 169–177.

Grant WB. Dietary links to Alzheimer's disease. Alz Dis Rev 1997;2:42-55

Grant WB. Dietary links to Alzheimer’s disease: 1999 update, J Alz Dis 1999;1197-201.

Grant WB, Campbell A, Itzhaki RF, Savory J, The significance of environmental factors in the etiology of Alzheimer’s disease, J Alz Dis 2002;4:179-89.

No competing interests declared.