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Defy Dementia Episode 12: What’s DNA Got to Do With It?

This episode of Defy Dementia explores the role of genetics in dementia risk. First, caregiver advocate Marva Smart shares how she is taking steps to manage her genetic risk and protect her brain health in light of prior dementia diagnoses in her family. Then, Dr. Tricia Woo, a clinician expert on genetic dementia risk from Hamilton Health Sciences and McMaster University, discusses the research on the link between specific genes and dementia. She also shares science-backed ways to reduce your risk, no matter your DNA. Tune in to this empowering new episode for practical strategies to help you protect your brain, no matter your genes.
Note: Shortly after we recorded this episode, a scientific article was published in the journal Nature Medicine (Fortea et al., 2024) strengthening the potential link between individuals' genetics and Alzheimer's disease. However, these new results do not change the recommendations for healthy lifestyle changes presented in this episode on how to reduce your dementia risk.





Learn more about our guests

Marva Smart is an advocate for care partners on the dementia journey. Her life took a poignant turn in 2011 when her mother, Ethel, was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia. She became her mother’s primary caregiver following her diagnosis. Sadly, Ethel passed away on March 2, 2013, from complications related to a stroke. Marva’s personal journey has been one of resilience, compassion, and a commitment to a deeper understanding of dementia. Her mission is to honour her mother's memory and legacy by supporting, empowering and educating care partners navigating dementia.
Dr. Tricia Woo is a geriatrician and professor of medicine at McMaster University, and a member of the GERAS Centre for Aging Research at McMaster and Hamilton Health Sciences. She completed her medical school and geriatric medicine residency at the University of Toronto. Dr. Woo sees patients and their families who have been referred to her clinic by their primary care providers. She counsels people after they have received a diagnosis of dementia, advising them on their diagnosis, their prognosis, and how to slow the progression of the disease. She also talks to family members about their own genetic risk, advises them on whether or not they should take a genetic test, and helps them interpret the results.