Reducing your risks

If you reduce your exposure to things like concussions, smoking or general anesthesia can you reduce your risk of dementia?

Here, we rank the scientific evidence and give you the info on whether reducing your exposure to injuries, toxins and other factors may or may not protect your brain later in life.

Please note, the efficacy and safety ratings* in this section reflect the potential effectiveness to prevent dementia and the safety of doing so when reducing your exposure to these agents or events.

* See the Evidence guide for color legend and more information.


Avoiding concussions and traumatic brain injury

September 24, 2015

A few studies report that concussions or repetitive blows to the head associate with a higher risk of later dementia but this field of research is very new and the long-term effects for a given individual are still very unclear. 

EFFICACY   Possibly
prevents dementia based on 
 Moderate  EVIDENCE
TYPICAL SAFETY*   Very likely

Reducing smoking and tobacco

August 21, 2015

Tobacco use can raise the risk of dementia and cognitive decline with aging, not to mention the risk of death from a variety of major diseases of aging. Stopping your use of tobacco may reduce risk even if you’ve smoked in the past.

prevents dementia based on 
 Moderate  EVIDENCE
TYPICAL SAFETY*   Very likely

Choice of anesthesia

August 21, 2015

Any surgery comes with risk. However, the type of anesthesia used seems to have little effect on brain health based on limited and sometimes conflicted evidence. For older adults, consulting with a geriatrician before surgery might reduce some risks. Tools to monitor anesthesia depth might possibly protect from post-operative delirium.

EFFICACY   Unlikely
to prevent dementia based on 
 Very limited  EVIDENCE