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Improved lifestyle slashes risk of developing dementia by 22pc

Improved lifestyle slashes risk of developing dementia by 22pc

Improved lifestyle slashes risk of developing dementia by 22pc

(Original article from Telegraph)

"Prevalence of brain diseases like Alzheimer's has collapsed by more than 22pc in 20 years, possibly due to healthier lifestyles and better education

The prevalence of debilitating brain diseases like Alzheimer's has collapsed by more than 22pc in 20 years, potentially because of better education and healthier lifestyles, new research has revealed.

About 850,000 Britons have dementia but the new research, funded by the Medical Research Council, suggests the number could be as much as 300,000 higher if not for the dip in prevalence.

The study was led by Carol Brayne, professor of public health medicine at Cambridge University, and looked at the prevalence of dementia three English regions, contrasting findings with results from a similar investigation 20 years ago.

Brayne, who will detail her findings at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Washington, D.C this week, told the Sunday Times: "Later-born populations have a lower risk of prevalent dementia than those born earlier in the past century." In a supporting paper, she and colleagues added: "Such reductions could be the outcomes from earlier population-level investments such as improved education and living conditions, and better prevention and treatment of vascular and chronic conditions."

Brayne concluded the same trend was emerging across Europe. "In a review of dementia occurrence in five studies ... we found none that supported headlines about dramatic increases in dementia.They report stable or reduced prevalence - despite ageing populations."

Dementia has several different causes, with Alzheimer's triggering 62pc of cases, and vascular dementia, which is caused by restriction in the brain's blood supply, accounting for 17pc.

Ten per cent of sufferers have both conditions while the other 11pc are caused by rarer diseases.

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society, said lifestyle has an important effect on the risk of dementia.

He said: "Regular exercise, low alcohol consumption and not smoking significantly reduce the risk of developing vascular dementia and possibly Alzheimer's disease too. People are increasingly aware of this, especially if other members of their family have developed the disease."

Though the proportion of over-65s developing dementia is falling, the number of individual cases is steady because sufferers are living longer.

Over-65s now make up 18pc of the population, compared to just 14pc in 1974.

"This is Britain's leading health challenge and we will spend £10m on research this year alone," Mr Hughes told the Sunday Times."

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