An estimated 48 million people currently live with dementia around the world, with that number expected to rise to 76 million by 2030, and triple by 2050.
With this in mind, any good news related to dementia is especially welcome!
Two factors now shown to decrease risk of dementia
A new study on dementia as reported by the New York Times reveals that more education and better cardiovascular health are two factors that may be leading to a decline in new dementia cases, or may at least be helping to keep the symptoms of dementia at bay.
The study, published earlier this month in The New England Journal of Medicine, makes the strongest case that education and physical activity can help those who may eventually be sufferers of dementia. Researchers found that those with at least a high school education had a decreased risk of dementia.
“We find the more education the better,” said Dr. Langa, who, in a different study, found that one additional year of education delayed dementia by five years.
Factors that increase dementia risk
It has become known that obesity and diabetes can increase the risk of dementia, and since so many people suffer from these conditions, doctors are quick to point out that although this new study is positive news, it isn’t a completely rosy picture.
Dallas Anderson, a program director on dementia at the National Institute on Aging said, “You don’t want to give the impression that the Alzheimer’s or dementia problem is disappearing — it’s not at all. The numbers are still going up because of the aging population.” The National Institute on Aging was one of the two agencies that financed the study.
But, he believes the good news is that people’s lifestyle choices can delay or significantly decrease the risk of developing dementia.
“It’s not just: ‘Oh, it’s in your genes. You’re going to get it,’” he said. “You can take steps to postpone the disease.”
In addition, Maria Carrillo, chief science officer for the advocacy group Alzheimer’s Association says, “this tells me there absolutely is hope for Alzheimer’s’ if people make living a healthier, more active lifestyle a priority.