Lancet Commission Says Lifestyle Changes Can Reduce Burden of Dementia

The Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention and Care says about one-third of dementia cases could be prevented through changes in lifestyle factors. Hearing loss is one of nine risk factors identified in its report as contributing to developing dementia.

Lifestyle factors that include hearing loss, smoking, hypertension, and depression are connected to the development of dementia, the first Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention and Care has found in a report that says beneficial changes in these could prevent one-third of the world's dementia cases. The report has been presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference and published in The Lancet, a respected medical journal.

The commission consisted of 24 international experts. They reviewed existing research and developed recommendations in their report for treating and preventing dementia.

About 47 million people were living with dementia worldwide in 2015, and the report says the annual global cost of dementia is estimated to be $818 billion. The number of people around the world living with it is expected to increase to 66 million by 2030 and to soar to 131 million by 2050, driven by rising numbers of older adults, it says.

But the picture is not entirely bleak. The commission's report says their results indicate about 35 percent of dementia is attributable a combination of nine risk factors:

  • education to a maximum of age 11–12 years
  • midlife hypertension
  • midlife obesity
  • hearing loss
  • late-life depression
  • diabetes
  • physical inactivity
  • smoking
  • social isolation

"To our knowledge, no systematic reviews have been done for hearing loss and incident dementia," they noted.

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