We fear a handful of diseases more than others. And rightfully so.
Diseases like osteoporosis. Many sufferers – especially women – don’t realize they have it until they begin to shrink… or develop the so-called “widow’s hump.”
Osteoporosis leaves you fragile. Like a delicate porcelain doll, even a slight bump or misstep can leave you broken… shattered. Fear of fractures has sidelined millions of formerly active adults.
Osteoporosis – weak, brittle bones – rates as a top fear among mature adults. For active seniors, it’s a nightmare.
Dementia – the slipping away of your mind, memory, and identity – is another nightmare that haunts us.
So imagine if the two were connected. If having osteoporosis also raised your risk of dementia.
Well, it does. Here’s what you need to know to build your defenses now.
Huge Study Links Osteoporosis and Dementia
A team of German and French doctors followed the health of almost 60,000 adults for 20 years. What they found was developing osteoporosis raises your risk of dementia up to about 30%.
The doctors compared 29,983 adults with osteoporosis to 29,983 healthy adults. After 20 years, they found men with osteoporosis were 20% more likely to develop dementia. Among women, the risk rose by 30%.
This wasn’t the first study to reach this conclusion. In 2014, Chinese researchers published a similar study. This research showed a 46% higher risk of any dementia among patients with osteoporosis. And a 39% higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
A 2017 European analysis of studies also found a link, but the authors took their research a step further. And that may be the good news here.
There’s No Proof Osteoporosis Leads to Dementia
The European team combed through 66 years of studies. They discovered scientists saw a link between osteoporosis and dementia… but no evidence the one causes the other.
But they did find evidence of similar risk factors for both diseases.
In other words, the two share some risk factors. Which may be why people with osteoporosis are more likely to develop dementia. It also means, working to prevent or reverse osteoporosis may also cut your risk of dementia.
Here’s what the scientists found…
You Can Control Risk Factors for Both Diseases
The two diseases have several common risk factors. The study only mentions one you can’t control, so let’s talk about that one first.
You have a gene called APOE. It carries the “plans” for a protein called apolipoprotein E. This protein links with fats to help carry cholesterol in your bloodstream.
APOE has several variants. One of these – APOE4 – is linked to Alzheimer’s disease (AD). People with the APOE4 variety of the gene are more likely to develop AD.
As it turns out, they’re also at a higher risk of osteoporosis.
The good news is that about half of all people have a different form of the APOE gene – called APOE3. Others have the APOE2 variant. So the chances are good you don’t have this risk factor anyway.
The scientists also found nutritional issues linked to higher risk for both dementia and osteoporosis. Two are especially easy to influence.
People with both these diseases tend to have lower levels of vitamins D and K than healthy adults. So, in theory, boosting your intake of these two vitamins should cut your risk.
To boost your vitamin K levels, eat more leafy green vegetables – such as spinach, chard, and kale. You can get smaller amounts from cabbage, broccoli, fish, meat and eggs.
Your best source of vitamin D is sunlight. Just 20 minutes of summer sun a day will trigger more than enough vitamin D for a person with “average” white skin. If your skin is darker, it will take longer. (Never stay in the sun long enough to burn!)
You can also get some vitamin D from fatty fish, beef liver, and vitamin-fortified foods. Or take a natural vitamin D supplement.
Both these vitamins help build bone mass. Higher levels are linked to a lower risk of dementia. And they may be an easy way to avoid your worst health nightmare.
About the Author: Jason Kennedy is a celebrated investigative health writer and the author of The X-Factor Revolution and Beyond the Blue Zone. With over 10 years of experience working with today’s leading alternative and anti-aging doctors, Jason shares his insider status and access to the latest breakthroughs with thousands of readers from around world.
Kostev, K., et al, “Impact of Osteoporosis on the Risk of Dementia in Almost 60,000 Patients Followed in General Practices in Germany,” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. Jul 21, 2018.
Chang, K.H., et al, “Increased risk of dementia in patients with osteoporosis: a population- based retrospective cohort analysis,” Age. Apr 2014; 36(2): 967-975.
Downey, C.L., et al, “Dementia and osteoporosis in a geriatric population: Is there a common link?” World J Orthop. May 18, 2017; 8(5): 412–423.
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