Dementia: eat better, exercise, and reduce smoking and drinking to cut risk

May 16, 2019  13:47

Taking better care of ourselves could be the best long-term strategy to tackling the growing problem of dementia, according to a new report.

Research by the World Health Organisation (WHO) found dementia affects 50 million people worldwide, costs $818bn (£632bn) annually to treat, and diagnoses are likely to triple by 2050.

In a bid to tackle dementia and general cognitive decline, WHO has set out guidelines linked to overall health and wellbeing.

A huge review of existing evidence found age was the strongest risk factor, but dementia was not an inevitable consequence of ageing. It found lifestyle factors such as physical inactivity, smoking, unhealthy diet and excessive alcohol consumption significantly increased the threat of the disease.

Medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and depression also played a role in cognitive decline and the development of dementia.

A review of previous studies also identified that social isolation, cognitive inactivity and hearing loss was linked to the condition.

The guidelines look at the level of risk posed by 12 possible contributory factors, and also the potential benefit in treating them.

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