old hands
Hu Juan from Zhengzhou, the Henan province of China suffers from a rare medical condition known as Cutis laxa, which has made her to look like an 80 –year-old woman at the age of 28. (Representational Image)Lisa Edmonds/Flickr

A significant number of Alzheimer's disease cases across the world can be prevented through making some changes in lifestyle, a new study says.

The Cambridge University study found that lack of physical activity, smoking, depression, midlife hypertension, obesity, diabetes and lack of proper education played a huge role in the brain disease, and that one in three cases of the disease was preventable by targeting these issues and taking appropriate steps.

Nearly 106 million people are expected to develop the brain disease by 2050. About 9 million of these cases (8.5 percent) in this estimate can be prevented by reducing the relative risk from each of these factors by 10 percent, the authors said.

The researchers based their findings on a 2011 study that found that modifying these lifestyle factors can help prevent one in two cases of these Alzheimer's disease cases around the world.

"Although there is no single way to prevent dementia, we may be able to take steps to reduce our risk of developing dementia at older ages," Professor Carol Brayne from the Cambridge Institute of Public Health at the University of Cambridge, said in a news release.

"We know what many of these factors are, and that they are often linked. Simply tackling physical inactivity, for example, will reduce levels of obesity, hypertension and diabetes, and prevent some people from developing dementia as well as allowing a healthier old age in general – it's a win-win situation."

Findings of the study have been published in The Lancet Neurology.

Several studies in the past have shown similar results. A team of researchers from the Cardiff University in UK reported last December that leading a healthy lifestyle – regular exercise, a healthy diet, non-smoking, limiting consumption of alcohol and maintaining a healthy weight - lowered risk of developing the brain disorder dementia.

Previous research has also shown that moderate physical activity helped improve size of certain parts of the brain- like the prefrontal cortex regions and hippocampus- that normally shrink as one gets older and slowed down onset of dementia.

Some other research-proven activities that help protect against the brain conditions include delayed retirement, use of cholesterol-lowering drugs in old age, brushing regularly and keeping teeth healthy and by engaging in brain –stimulating activities like reading, writing throughout life.