[This abstract first appeared in: Dementia: the Latest Evidence Newsletter RWHT Volume 1 Issue 2 September 2010].
It is estimated that one million people in the UK will have dementia by 2025. Several known risk factors for the disease include obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
British and French researchers investigated whether any public health interventions could help reduce the burden of dementia in the population.
Eliminating depression and diabetes, and increasing fruit and vegetable consumption, were estimated to lead to an overall 21% reduction in new cases of dementia.
Increasing education also could lead to an estimated 18% reduction in new cases of dementia across the general population over the next seven years.
By contrast, removing the main genetic risk factor for dementia (carrying a certain type of the apolipoprotein E gene) would only cut new cases by 7%.
While the authors concede that causal relationships cannot be concluded with certainty, the study suggests priorities that may inform public health programmes. Further studies including younger adults are needed to test the impact of such approaches.
Ritchie, K. Carrière, I. Ritchie, CW. [et al]. (2010). Designing prevention programmes to reduce incidence of dementia: prospective cohort study of modifiable risk factors. BMJ, 2010; Vol.341(7768), p.310 & p.336, c3885.