Frequently asked questions of patients to GPs

What's my risk?

Dementia can happen to anybody, but it is more common after the age of 65 years although people in their 40's and 50's can also have dementia.

Can dementia be inherited?

The majority of cases of dementia are not directly inherited and likely arise from a combination of genetic and environmental effects. One rare form of Alzheimer’s disease is passed from generation to generation. This is called Familial Alzheimer’s disease (FAD). If a parent has a mutated gene that causes FAD, each child has a 50% chance of inheriting it. The presence of the gene means that the person will eventually develop Alzheimer’s disease, usually in their 40s or 50s. This form of Alzheimer’s disease affects an extremely small number of people – probably no more than 100 at any given time among the whole population of Australia.

Is there anything I can do to reduce the risk?

There are some risk factors that can be controlled to help reduce the risk of dementia and cardiovascular disease. Eating healthily, being physically active, participating in social activities, not smoking, drinking alcohol in moderation, exercising your brain and maintaining blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and body weight at healthy levels can all help.

What does current research suggest?

Current research suggests that a range of lifestyle and health factors may reduce the risk or delay the onset of dementia. Scientific research has found that by challenging the brain with new learning activities you can stimulate the growth of new brain cells and strengthen connections between brain cells. Following a healthy lifestyle is important and research shows that people who follow a 'brain-healthy' lifestyle have better brain function and a lower risk of developing dementia on average than people who don't (but this lifestyle is not a guarantee against developing dementia). Go to http://www.yourbrainmatters.org.au to help look after your brain health

Is there any truth to aluminium causing dementia?

During the 1960s and 1970s, aluminum emerged as a possible suspect in Alzheimer’s. This suspicion led to concern about exposure to aluminum through everyday sources such as pots and pans, beverage cans, antacids and antiperspirants. Since then, studies have failed to confirm any role for aluminum in causing Alzheimer’s. Experts today focus on other areas of research, and few believe that everyday sources of aluminum pose any threat.

Do Flu vaccinations increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease?

A theory linking flu shots to a greatly increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease has been proposed by a U.S. doctor whose license was suspended by the South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners. Several mainstream studies link flu shots and other vaccinations to a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease and overall better health.

Do silver dental fillings increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease?

Scientific evidence has concluded that there is no relationship between silver dental fillings and Alzheimer's. The concern that there could be a link arose because "silver" fillings are made of an amalgam (mixture) that typically contains about 50 percent mercury, 35 percent silver and 15 percent tin. Mercury is a heavy metal that, in certain forms, is known to be toxic to the brain and other organs. Public health agencies, including the FDA, the U.S. Public Health Service and the World Health Organization, endorse the continued use of amalgam as safe, strong, inexpensive material for dental restoration

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