The study published on Sunday in the journal JAMA showed that the risk of dementia was 32 percent lower in people with a high genetic risk if they had followed a healthy lifestyle, compared to those who had an unhealthy lifestyle.
Participants with high genetic risk and a bad lifestyle were almost three times more likely to develop dementia compared to those with a low genetic risk and favourable lifestyle, according to the study.
Researchers analyzed data from 196,383 adults of European ancestry aged 60 and older, and they identified 1,769 cases of dementia over a follow-up period of eight years. The team grouped the participants into those with high, intermediate and low genetic risk for dementia.
They also grouped participants into favourable, intermediate and unfavourable categories based on their self-reported diet, physical activity, smoking and alcohol consumption.
The researchers found that living a healthy lifestyle was associated with a reduced dementia risk across all genetic risk groups.
"Some people believe it's inevitable they'll develop dementia because of their genetics. However it appears that you may be able to substantially reduce your dementia risk by living a healthy lifestyle," said the paper's co-lead author David Llewellyn from the University of Exeter Medical School.