Obesity, smoking key triggers for Alzheimer’s Disease, say experts

New Delhi: Obesity and smoking are key triggers for Alzheimer’s Disease, said health experts on Monday, stressing the need to control both, especially in young adults. Alzheimer’s is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder, which is a serious public health concern. It leads to memory loss, cognitive decline, and inability to perform daily tasks. The experts explained that obesity and smoking are the major risk factors for vascular dementia and can trigger Alzheimer’s owing to the inflammation caused due to smoking. “Smoking damages blood vessels, reducing blood flow to the brain, which can harm brain cells. Obesity is linked to inflammation and insulin resistance, both detrimental to brain health,” Dr. Vikas Mittal, Pulmonologist at the CK Birla Hospital, Delhi, told IANS. Curbing the major risk factors are important as a recent study published in the journal The Lancet showed that global dementia cases are set to triple, with 153 million living with dementia by 2050. Alzheimer’s, the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80 per cent of cases, is also expected to soar. “Obesity also causes conditions like diabetes and cardiac disease which are known risk factors for Alzheimer’s. The presence of these conditions worsens brain health while promoting inflammation, oxidative stress, and vascular damage, which leads to memory decline and increase in Alzheimer’s Disease,” Dr. Anurag Saxena, HOD and Cluster Head Neurosurgery, Manipal Hospital Dwarka, told IANS. Additionally, obesity impairs metabolic functions and insulin signalling which increases the risk of neurodegeneration. On the other hand, “smoking worsens oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain which increases the development of Alzheimer’s. “The harmful chemicals in cigarettes like nicotine and tar damage blood vessels and interfere with blood flow. Smoking can not only accelerate Alzheimer’s Disease but also other forms of dementia,” Dr. Anurag said. Moreover, people with a family history of Alzheimer’s are more prone to the condition if they smoke. The combination and genetic factors and the effects of smoking increases the progress of Alzheimer’s symptoms, the doctor noted. Dr. Shailesh Rohatgi, HOD, Department of Neurology, DPU Super Speciality Hospital at Pune, told IANS that he advised maintaining a balanced lifestyle and eating habits and keeping a constant check, as vascular dementia can even develop at an early age due to various lifestyle habits. He also stressed on “daily activities which are not just limited to physical movement but also engaging the brain. It is important to engage your brain in mental activities like board games.”

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