A third of dementia cases could be prevented if people address nine lifestyle "risk factors", a new report has suggested.
Research by the Lancet Commission which is being presented at the Alzheimer's Association conference in London today suggested factors such as obesity, diabetes, physical inactivity and even hearing loss can have a profound effect on the likelihood of developing dementia later in life.
According to the Alzheimer's Society, more than 1m people in the UK will live with dementia in 2025, soaring to over 2m by 2051. One in six people over the age of 80 have developed the condition.
But today's report suggested by reducing the global prevalence of seven principal health and lifestyle factors, more than 1m cases could be prevented worldwide. A major intervention could prevent 9m cases by 2050.
|Lifestyle factor||Percentage of preventable cases|
|1.||Improved education||8 per cent|
|2.||Hearing loss||9 per cent|
|3.||Hypertension||2 per cent|
|4.||Obesity||1 per cent|
|5.||Smoking||5 per cent|
|6.||Depression||4 per cent|
|7.||Physical inactivity||3 per cent|
|8.||Social isolation||2 per cent|
|9.||Diabetes||1 per cent|
"At an individual level, many people have the potential to reduce their risk of cognitive decline, and perhaps dementia, through simple, healthful behaviour changes," said Maria Carillo, chief science officer at the Alzheimer's Association.
"At a public health level, interventions based on this evidence could be extremely powerful in managing the global human and economic costs of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias."
"While public health interventions will not prevent, or cure all potentially modifiable dementia, intervention for cardiovascular risk factors, mental health, and hearing may push back the onset of many people for years," added UCL's Gill Livingston, lead author of The Lancet Commission.
"Even if some of this promise is realised, it could make a huge difference and we have already seen in some populations that dementia is being delayed for years. Dementia prevalence could be halved if its onset were delayed by five years."