Son of TV Legend Don Lane on Reducing Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA), UNSW Sydney

Son of TV legend Don Lane ran his first ever Marathon in the 2023 Sydney Marathon event, in support of dementia research led by the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA).

PJ Lane was just 24 years of age when he lost his larger-than-life father to the disease, and since becoming an Ambassador for CHeBA in 2012 has made it his mission to understand more about Alzheimer’s and other dementias, which research indicates is triggered not only by genetics but also by lifestyle factors.

September is World Alzheimer’s month with Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) recently releasing this year’s theme focusing on the critical role of risk reduction to stave off, delay or prevent dementia.

There is a growing body of research evidence that shows there are 12 potentially modifiable risk factors – with a key one being physical inactivity.

Other proven risk factors for dementia include smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, infrequent social contact, head injuries, and conditions including diabetes, hearing loss, depression, obesity, and hypertension – all of which individuals have some control over.

The remaining risk factors include air pollution and restricted access to early education, which governments are responsible for addressing.

ADI says that up to 40% of projected dementia cases could be delayed or potentially even avoided by addressing just 12 risk factors.

PJ, a former professional basketballer who is currently studying a Masters of High Performance Sport, says that losing his Dad to Alzheimer’s disease has made him to everything in his power to reduce his own risk of the disease.

“I’ve often questioned the genetic component of the disease,” says PJ.

“We’re all getting older,” he says. “Although we can’t change our genes or stop ageing, there are fundamental changes all of us can make to reduce our own risk – and remaining active throughout our lives is important.”

To acknowledge this fact PJ chose to up the ante on his cardiovascular health this year and has been running 7 hours a week in preparation for the 17 September event.

CHeBA’s Co-Directors and world-leaders in the ageing brain, Professor Henry Brodaty and Professor Perminder Sachdev, congratulated PJ on his enormous efforts to advocate for awareness into healthy brain ageing, his personal drive to reduce risk of cognitive decline as well and his tireless efforts to raise funds to advance research.

With over 400,000 people living with dementia in Australia and approximately 55 million people worldwide, we have reached a point in history where advancing research is critical.

“Research is key to better understand these risk factors and how we can intervene to modify them and help delay dementia for future generations,” says PJ.

PJ says he continues to be inspired by the prospect that medical research can show early markers of memory decline so that brain disease can be detected before the onset of Alzheimer’s.

“It’s a privilege to work with the team at CHeBA. With the brilliant scientific minds of Henry Brodaty and Perminder Sachdev leading the way to research healthier brain ageing, it has been a wonderful relationship and a Centre I’m extremely proud to support.”

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The Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA) is a premier research institute at UNSW Sydney. Learn more here:

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