New research results presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2017 (AAIC 2017) deepen our understanding of the risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, and highlight the potential to prevent cognitive decline through lifestyle interventions. Other important data reported at AAIC 2017 included new studies that highlight the impact of race and socioeconomic status on dementia risk, plus advances in diagnostic tools and early detection.

  • New studies found that a single major stressful event in early life is equal to 4 years of cognitive aging, and African Americans are most at risk—on average, they experience over 60% more of such events than non-Hispanic Whites over their lifetimes. Additionally, African Americans born in states with the highest levels of infant mortality had 40% increased risk of dementia compared to African Americans not from those states, and 80% increased risk compared to Whites.
  • In several new studies, sleep-disordered breathing and sleep apnea were significantly associated with accumulation of amyloid and tau in the brain—two important markers for Alzheimer’s disease.
  • One newly-reported study found that older people with hearing loss were roughly 3 times more likely to have mild cognitive impairment than those with normal hearing.
  • Results from 4large population-based studies support a strong connection between a healthy diet and better cognition as people age.

“We are determined to develop and deliver a more-specific recipe for Alzheimer’s risk reduction,” says Maria Carrillo, PhD, chief science officer at the Alzheimer’s Association, in a release. “We now can effectively prevent or treat heart disease, cancer, and HIV/AIDS with combinations of drugs and lifestyle. The same may also be true for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias in the not too distant future.

“This will only come through additional, large-scale research trials in diverse populations. The Alzheimer’s Association calls on the U.S. Congress to continue its commitment to Alzheimer’s and other dementias by increasing funding for Alzheimer’s research by at least $414 million in fiscal year 2018.”

More than 45 Alzheimer’s disease researchers from New York City have joined 5,000 thought leaders from more than 64 countries to network and discuss the latest dementia study results and theories around the world, and featured more than 2,200 scientific presentations.