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Combining modifiable risk factors and risk of dementia: a systematic review and meta-analysis
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  • Published on:
    lifestyle-related risks for dementia, relative to age-related risk
    • Tim D Sanders, Commisisoning Manager, Dementia NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group

    This seems a very useful synthesis from research to quantify the impact of unhealthy habits on the risk of developing dementia. Two thoughts:

    1. Studies which estimate the prevalence of dementia (eg. Cognitive Function in Ageing Study 'CFAS2') suggest that, above age 65, the prevalence of dementia approximately doubles for each five year age-band. So it seems reasonable as a rule of thumb to say that three of the identified lifestyle behaviours is roughly as risky for dementia onset as being five years older.

    2. I'm wary that public perception and stigma around dementia could increase, as an unintended consequence of promoting helpful messages about healthy lifestyles. At present, people with dementia are generally perceived as being unlucky, rather than having brought about one's own downfall. This research is important, but I think the context of age-related risk, and plain bad luck, must always be given as the context to lifestyle data. This will keep things in proportion for people and hopefully avoid blame and additional stigma being attached to dementia.

    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.