UC Davis Joins U.S. POINTER Study: Does Healthy Lifestyle Reduce Alzheimer’s Risk?

healthy eating concept

The Alzheimer’s Association gave $6 million to the University of California, Davis, to fund its participation in the U.S. POINTER study, a landmark effort to look at whether older adults can fend off deterioration in their memory and thinking by adopting particular lifestyle changes.

The Study

UC Davis will enroll 400 adults ages 60 to 79 to participate in the POINTER study formally called the “U.S. Study to Protect Brain Health Through Lifestyle Intervention to Reduce Risk.” It is based on a two-year study of at-risk elderly people in Finland that was called the FINGER study.

In 2014, a large-scale two-year study in Finland in healthy older adults at increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia (the Finnish Geriatric Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability, or Finder Study) reported that a two-year combination therapy simultaneously targeting physical exercise, a healthy diet, cognitive stimulation, and self-monitoring of heart health risk had a protective effect on cognitive function. FINGER and U.S. POINTER join other similar efforts around the globe in a worldwide consortium

UC Davis Principal Investigator

Rachel Whitmer, professor of public health sciences and principal investigator of the study reports to the Sacramento Bee “U.S. POINTER is the first large-scale effort to test whether multiple lifestyle changes can prevent cognitive decline.”

Sarah Farias, professor of neurology and co-principle investigator for the UC Davis research described the Finnish approach is more promising than any medications currently available for Alzheimer’s.

Study Administration

The $6 million in funding from the Alzheimer’s Association UC Davis Study Administration: UCD Alzheimer’s Disease Center and UCD Department of Public Health Sciences. Study administration contacts Maria Levallois and Hongzheng Zhang.

Alzheimer’s Target Links

Thus far studies are showing that Alzheimer’s may be linked to physical activity, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, smoking, depression and lack of education about risk factors. UC Davis suspects that these links may be more prevalent within Hispanic communities reported on by the Sacramento Bee’s Cathie Anderson.