Excessive drinking, exposure to air pollution and head injuries all increase dementia risk, experts say in a report revealing that up to 40% of dementia cases worldwide could be delayed or prevented by addressing 12 such lifestyle factors. The Guardian reports: The report from the Lancet Commission on dementia prevention, intervention and care builds on previous work revealing that about a third of dementia cases could be prevented by addressing nine lifestyle factors, including midlife hearing loss, depression, less childhood education and smoking. The research weighs up the latest evidence, largely from high-income countries, supporting the addition of a further three risk factors to the list. It suggests that 1% of dementia cases worldwide are attributable to excessive mid-life alcohol intake, 3% to mid-life head injuries and 2% a result of exposure to air pollution in older age — although they caution that the latter could be an underestimate.
While some actions can be taken on a personal level to tackle such issues, many require government-led change. The report includes a list of nine recommendations, including improving air quality, and urges policymakers to “be ambitious about prevention.” Research has suggested that the incidence of dementia in Europe and North America has fallen by around 15% per decade for the past 30 years — likely because of lifestyle changes such as a reduction in smoking — even though the numbers of people with dementia are rising as people live longer. The impact of lifestyle interventions, the team add, is likely to be greatest among the most deprived individuals and in low- and middle-income countries. The impact of lifestyle interventions, the team add, is likely to be greatest among the most deprived individuals and in low- and middle-income countries.
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