In a report drawn up by the Lancet Commission, it was concluded that dementia is not an inevitable consequence of aging and that there are indeed nine factors at various stages of life which, when eliminated, can prevent disease.
“There are a number of things individuals can do, as well as public health and their policies, to reduce the numbers of people who develop dementia”, said Gill Livingston, a co-author of the report and a professor of psychology at College London University. The Guardian.
The new study suggests that individuals should follow a Mediterranean diet, maintain a healthy weight and control blood pressure. The results also revealed that 35% of dementia cases could theoretically be prevented, 9% of which are directly linked to middle-aged hearing loss, 8% to drop out of school before completing upper secondary education, 5% Old smoker, and 4% are linked to cases of depression in the elderly.
For the remaining five factors, these include social isolation, late diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and lack of exercise.
The authors of the report admit that estimating more than 1/3 of cases can be avoided is the best scenario, and study numbers are based on a set of assumptions that include the cancellation of each of the factors mentioned.
“I think reality only accounts for 5% of the cases”, said Clive Ballard, co-author and professor at Exeter University. Even so, that percentage would correspond to a reduction of 5,000 cases per year, only in the United Kingdom.
It is also recognized that in some of the factors, it is uncertain whether interventions would reduce the risk of dementia or only delay its initiation. There are also uncertainties about factors such as depression and social isolation, and it is unclear whether they increase the risk of the disease or whether the changes that occur in the brain that lead to dementia may also be linked to these issues.
However, Doug Brown, a physician and research director at the Alzheimer’s Society, says that estimating that more than a third of the cases can be prevented is a reason for celebration, not forgetting, however, the difficulties that this entails.
“Not all of the nine factors identified are easily modifiable, such as poor education or social isolation, but there are easy factors like blood pressure and smoking”, he added.
The authors also say that only one intervention that delays the onset and progression of the disease, even for one year, can help reduce dementia worldwide by 9 million in the year 2050.