The dementia rate could decrease by 40% if people lead a healthier life

Hundreds of thousands of people could ward off dementia through a healthy lifestyle, according to a large study.

According to a comprehensive review of the evidence, approximately 40 percent of the cases could be avoided or delayed.

Eating less, exercising more and avoiding alcohol and cigarettes significantly reduces the risk of developing dementia later in life, according to the researchers.

Hundreds of thousands of people could ward off dementia through a healthy lifestyle, as a large study has found (archive picture)

The 12 main factors


  • education – Better schooling makes it a habit of you to use your brain more throughout your life, which has been shown to increase your “cognitive reserve” and reduce your risk of dementia. Poor education increases a person's risk of dementia by 60 percent. Responsible for 7 percent of cases

MEDIEVAL (45-65 years)

  • Deafness – now demonstrably linked to dementia. Hearing aids reduce this risk, suggesting that rationing in the UK could have a significant impact in the coming years. Increases individual risk by 90 percent and is responsible for 8 percent of all cases.
  • Brain injury – A large study last year showed that soccer players have a significantly increased risk of dementia due to repeated headball movements. Increases individual risk by 80 percent, which is responsible for 3 percent of all cases.
  • high blood pressure – A systolic level greater than 140 mgHH increases a person's risk by 60 percent. Responsible for 2 percent of cases.
  • Drink – More than 21 units (about nine liters of beer or 15 small glasses of wine) per week increase the individual risk by 20 percent. Responsible for 1 percent of cases.
  • obesity – A body mass index greater than 30 increases a person's likelihood of developing dementia by 60 percent. Responsible for 1 percent of cases.

OLD AGE (65+)

  • Smoke – Tobacco consumption increases individual dementia risk by 60 percent. Responsible for 5 percent of cases.
  • Social isolation – Coronavirus blocking has shown the devastating effects of isolation. Increases the risk of dementia by 60 percent and is responsible for 4 percent of cases.
  • depression – Psychological stress increases the risk of depression by 90 percent, and antidepressants do not help. 4 percent of all cases.
  • Lack of exercise – Physical activity increases blood circulation, speeds up the metabolism and increases the health of the blood vessels. Inactive people are 40 percent more likely to develop dementia. Responsible for 2 percent of cases.
  • diabetes – Britain has a booming diabetes problem with 4 million diagnoses. You have a 50 percent increased risk of dementia. Responsible for 1 percent of cases.
  • Air pollution – Increasing evidence shows that people who live near main streets are susceptible to neurological decline. Increases the risk of dementia by 10 percent. Responsible for 2 percent of cases.

These habits – along with environmental factors, medical history and education – are responsible for around 340,000 of the 850,000 cases of dementia in the UK, the study said.

A team of 28 world-leading dementia experts who performed the review for the Lancet Medical Journal identified 12 different controllable factors that contribute to the risk of dementia.

For decades, experts believed that dementia was a question of fate – a cruel peculiarity of genetics and aging.

However, in recent years, scientists have increasingly recognized that dementia is not inevitable, and indeed the way people live their lives increases the risk of developing this disease in old age.

There is a growing understanding that poor circulation, which is heavily influenced by diet, exercise and drinking, has a significant impact on the brain.

Education is also known to have a protective effect, since those who receive better schooling are more likely to think complexly all their lives – which reduces the risk of dementia by keeping the brain active.

Air pollution, depression and social problems in old age also increase the risk.

In 2017, a previous Lancet review identified nine elements that contributed to the risk of dementia.

The new paper updates this and adds three new risk factors – alcohol consumption, air pollution, and head injuries.

Researchers, including leading British scientists from University College London, Cambridge, Exeter, Edinburgh and Manchester, emphasized that the majority of the risk of dementia is due to genetics and other uncontrollable factors.

But they said the new evidence shows that people have a great deal of power to determine their own destiny.

In the meantime, politicians must take responsibility for reducing some of the risk, especially by addressing the growing problem of air pollution.

University of Exeter researcher Professor Clive Ballard said: "Our results provide an exciting opportunity to improve millions of people around the world by preventing or delaying dementia, through a healthier lifestyle, more exercise, healthy weight and that Quit smoking good medical treatment for risk factors such as high blood pressure.

& # 39; An important, less well-known risk factor is mid-life hearing loss. There is evidence that wearing hearing aids can be protective.

“This was an important message for public health. If you have hearing problems, there are several advantages to being tested in the middle of life and wearing a hearing aid when needed.

"This analysis shows that there is real potential to improve brain health through action."

The researchers said one of the biggest controllable factors was poor education, which is responsible for 7 percent of dementia cases.

Middle-aged hearing loss is responsible for 8 percent of cases and brain injury for 3 percent.

High blood pressure from middle age contributes 2 percent, obesity 1 percent, and drinking more than 21 units a week contributes 1 percent.

Smoking in old age contributes 5 percent, physical inactivity 2 percent, diabetes 1 percent, depression 4 percent, isolation 4 percent and air pollution 2 percent.

UCL study leader Professor Gill Livingston, who presented the paper yesterday at the Alzheimer's Association international conference, said politics could do a lot to reduce these risks.

& # 39; Our report shows that it is in the power of policymakers and individuals to prevent and delay a significant portion of dementia, with the possibility of having an impact at every stage of a person's life.

What do the experts recommend?

  • The goal is to maintain systolic blood pressure (the highest number in a blood pressure test) of 130 mm Hg or less in the middle of life from about 40 years of age
  • Use hearing aids for hearing loss and reduce hearing loss by protecting your ears from high levels of noise
  • Reduce exposure to second-hand air pollution and tobacco smoke
  • Prevent head injuries (especially through targeted activities and high-risk transportation)
  • Prevent alcohol abuse and limit drinking to less than 21 units a week
  • Stop smoking
  • Offer all children basic and secondary education
  • Live an active life in the middle and possibly a later life
  • Reduce obesity and diabetes

"We can reduce risk by creating an active and healthy community environment where physical activity is the norm, better nutrition is accessible to everyone, and exposure to excessive alcohol is minimized."

Fiona Carragher, research director of the Alzheimer's Association, which co-financed the study, said: “Although we don't have all the answers yet, we can now take action to address the risk factors that we control, including excessive alcohol consumption. Obesity and high blood pressure.

"In the meantime, we need a public health policy to address other factors such as air pollution and inequalities in child rearing."

Dr. Rosa Sancho, head of research at Alzheimer Research UK, added: “While there is no sure way to prevent dementia, the best way to keep your brain healthy in old age is to stay physically and mentally active and healthy and balanced diet Do not smoke, only drink within the recommended limits and keep weight, cholesterol and blood pressure at bay.

& # 39; Since treatments are not yet able to slow or stop dementia, taking measures to reduce these risks is an important part of our strategy to fight the disease.

"This report highlights the importance of acting on a personal and political level to reduce the risk of dementia."

Professor Jennifer Rusted of the University of Sussex added: “The big picture here is that a person's risk of dementia is a complex of many factors that affect life span and that lifestyle choices and changes increase the risk of dementia in people can significantly reduce later life.

"If you can work to mitigate one of these many factors, you can at least push back the age at which cognitive impairment occurs to affect your independent life and quality of life."


Dementia is an umbrella term that describes a number of neurological disorders

Dementia is an umbrella term that describes a number of neurological disorders

A global concern

Dementia is an umbrella term for a number of progressive neurological disorders (affecting the brain) that affect memory, thinking, and behavior.

There are many different types of dementia, the most common of which is Alzheimer's disease.

Some people may have a combination of types of dementia.

Regardless of what type is diagnosed, each person will experience their dementia in their own way.

Dementia is a global problem, but it is most common in wealthier countries where people are likely to live to a ripe old age.


The Alzheimer Society reports that more than 850,000 people with dementia now live in the UK, more than 500,000 of whom suffer from Alzheimer's.

It is estimated that the number of people with dementia in the UK will rise to over 1 million by 2025.

An estimated 5.5 million Alzheimer's sufferers in the United States. A similar percentage increase is expected in the coming years.

The risk of developing dementia increases with age.

Diagnosis rates are improving, but it is believed that many people with dementia are still undiagnosed.

Is there a cure?

There is currently no cure for dementia.

But new drugs can slow progression and the sooner they are discovered, the more effective the treatments will be.

Source: Alzheimer Society

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