I admit I was shocked to discover I have the ApoE4 gene that triples my odds of developing Alzheimer's disease. My two younger sisters and a brother have the gene, too. So do about 25% of all Americans.
But genes are not destiny. Millions of Americans without a genetic susceptibility develop Alzheimer's, and many with the genes do not.
"The idea that Alzheimer's is entirely genetic and unpreventable is perhaps the greatest misconception about the disease," says Gary Small, M.D., director of the UCLA Center on Aging. Researchers now know that Alzheimer's, like heart disease and cancer, develops over decades and can be influenced by lifestyle factors including cholesterol, blood pressure, obesity, depression, education, nutrition, sleep and mental, physical and social activity.
Read more: Stay Sharp