More people than ever are living with dementia—but in Europe and the US, the risk of developing the condition is actually down, a striking new paper found.
In 1995, a 75-year-old man had ~25% chance of developing dementia. Today: 18%, the New York Times reports. But that downward trend has not been seen in Asia, South America, or in the limited data from Africa.
Why the decline? One theory is better management of cardiovascular risk factors like blood pressure and cholesterol, which are linked to dementia. Improved education, which may be protective by improving brain capacity, is another theory.
The identification of these “modifiable” risk factors offer one glint of hope for the dementia research landscape. The Economist reports that the Lancet commission on dementia prevention recently identified 3 new ones:
- Excessive drinking in middle age
- Head injuries in middle age
- Air pollution exposure later in life