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UK study: Dementia rates significantly lower than forecasted–especially for men–highlighting the protective role of lifestyle and education

-- Incidence rate of dementia per 1,000 person years in CFAS I and CFAS II by age at baseline interview. Natural scale. Source: Study below

– Inci­dence rate of demen­tia per 1,000 per­son years in CFAS I (con­duct­ed in the 90s) and CFAS II (just fin­ished) by age at base­line inter­view. Nat­ur­al scale. Source: Study ref­er­enced below.

Drop in demen­tia rates sug­gests dis­ease can be pre­vent­ed, researchers say (The Guardian):

In the UK, demen­tia has fall­en by a fifth over the past 20 years, pos­si­bly down to lifestyle and edu­ca­tion changes, high­light­ing ben­e­fits of pre­ven­ta­tive action…

A team from three British uni­ver­si­ties con­clud­ed that as a result the num­ber of new cas­es of demen­tia is low­er than had been pre­dict­ed in the 1990s, esti­mat­ed at around 210,000 a year in the UK as opposed to 250,000…The find­ings are poten­tial­ly sig­nif­i­cant because they sug­gest that it is pos­si­ble to take pre­ven­ta­tive action, such as stop­ping smok­ing and reduc­ing cho­les­terol, that could help avoid the con­di­tion.

Nick Fox, pro­fes­sor of neu­rol­o­gy at Uni­ver­si­ty Col­lege, Lon­don, who was not involved in the study, agrees: “This does sug­gest that our risk, in any par­tic­u­lar age in lat­er life, can be reduced prob­a­bly by what we do 10, 20 or 30 years before.”

The trend emerges from a dra­mat­ic drop in new cas­es for men across all age groups. In the 1990s study, for every 1,000 men aged 70–74, 12.9 went on to devel­op demen­tia with­in a year. In the sec­ond study, 20 years lat­er, that fig­ure had dropped to only 8.7 men. For men aged 65–69 the rate of new cas­es had more than halved between the two studies…The sit­u­a­tion for women was more com­plex: while those aged 80–84 showed a small increase in rates between the two stud­ies, there was a slight drop for oth­er age groups.”

To learn more:


Study: A two decade demen­tia inci­dence com­par­i­son from the Cog­ni­tive Func­tion and Age­ing Stud­ies I and II (Nature Com­mu­ni­ca­tions)

  • Abstract: Dra­mat­ic glob­al increas­es in future num­bers of peo­ple with demen­tia have been pre­dict­ed. No mul­ti­cen­tre pop­u­la­tion-based study pow­ered to detect changes over time has report­ed demen­tia inci­dence. MRC Cog­ni­tive Func­tion and Age­ing Study (CFAS) under­took base­line inter­views in pop­u­la­tions aged 65+ years in Eng­land and Wales (1989–1994). Three areas (CFAS I) were select­ed for new sam­pling two decades lat­er (2008–2011) with same geo­graph­i­cal bound­aries, sam­pling and approach meth­ods (CFAS II). At 2 years CFAS I inter­viewed 5,156 (76% response) with 5,288 inter­viewed in CFAS II (74% response). Here we report a 20% drop in inci­dence (95% CI: 0–40%), dri­ven by a reduc­tion in men across all ages above 65. In the UK we esti­mate 209,600 new demen­tia cas­es per year. This study was unique­ly designed to test for dif­fer­ences across geog­ra­phy and time. A reduc­tion of age-spe­cif­ic inci­dence means that the num­bers of peo­ple esti­mat­ed to devel­op demen­tia in any year has remained rel­a­tive­ly sta­ble.

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Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Education & Lifelong Learning, Health & Wellness

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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