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Third of dementia cases preventable, suggests landmark study

July 25, 2017

A third of dementia cases are preventable through nine lifestyle changes, The Independent has reported.

New research has revealed that while not all instances of neurodegenerative diseases are preventable, a range of factors can in fact decrease the risk of developing conditions such as Alzheimer’s.

A panel of 24 international experts identified nine factors that can be targeted to improve brain health and are believed to be responsible for around 35 per cent of all instances of dementia.

Those changes include: mid-life hearing loss, failing to complete secondary education, smoking, failing to seek early treatment for depression, physical inactivity, social isolation, high blood pressure, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

Gill Livingston, a professor at University College London, said these changes “could have a huge effect on the number of people living with dementia”. Recent research suggested that the number of people living with dementia will soar from 850,000 to two million by 2051.

“It’s now a common idea that education strengthens the brain, meaning you’re less likely to develop dementia,” Ms Livingston told The Independent

“But for a long time we thought that once you were an adult nothing changed in your brain, or if it did, it was only changing in a negative way. We now no longer think that.

“A cognitively rich environment is one where you’re using your brain as much as possible. Something that makes you think, where you listen to several other people, and respond to them in an appropriate way, is quite a cognitively challenging task. 

“If you’ve got hearing loss you tend not to have that, as well as not being able to hear about new information in the same way. Hearing loss and social isolation are quite linked.”

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