50 millions. This is the number of people with dementia in the world, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Almost 10 million new cases are recorded each year. Dementia is a syndrome characterized by a significant deterioration in cognitive function. This disorder affects memory, learning ability, comprehension, reasoning but also language.
Alzheimer’s disease is believed to be the cause of 60 to 70% of dementia cases. Although this disorder mainly affects the elderly, everyone can be affected by this syndrome. In a new report published this July 30 in the medical journal The Lancet Commission 2020, scientists have identified several risk factors for dementia, which they believe can be reduced to reduce the risk of developing the disorder. “Dementia is potentially preventable – there are things you can do to reduce your risk of dementia at any stage in your life”, told the British daily The Guardian Gill Livingston, lead author of the study and professor of psychiatry at University College London.
Dementia: 12 risk factors to reduce to avoid developing this disorder
To carry out this new study, the authors relied on the previous report, which they had published in 2017 in The Lancet. In the latter, the researchers had already identified nine risk factors. Some of the causes associated with dementia include diabetes, obesity, physical inactivity, social isolation, smoking, depression, educational conditions, high blood pressure and hearing loss.
“We are now adding three more risk factors for dementia thanks to more recent and convincing evidence. These factors are excessive alcohol consumption, traumatic brain injury and air pollution. (…) Together, the 12 modifiable risk factors account for about 40% of dementias in the world, which could therefore theoretically be avoided or delayed. The potential for prevention is high and could be more so in low- and middle-income countries where dementias are more many”, scientists point out in the report.
“40% of dementias could be preventable”
“Our report shows that policymakers and individuals have the power to prevent or delay a significant proportion of dementia cases”, says Gill Livingston. According to researchers, it is never too early or too late to prevent this syndrome. They believe that targeted initiatives, such as using hearing aids to decrease the risk of hearing loss or controlling blood pressure in midlife, could potentially delay or prevent dementia in young and old.
“This report estimates that 40% of dementias could be preventable with lifestyle changes, which means that 60% are, as far as we know, caused by things we cannot control, such as genetic factors. (…) I hope this report will not lead people to think that it is their fault if they are suffering from dementia “, souligne Gill Livingston.
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