Is dementia on the decline? Research suggests it might be

Despite fears that the coming silver tsunami will trigger a dementia epidemic, a surprising new study suggests that it may be possible to delay - or even prevent - some kinds of dementia.

Dementia rates in the United States dropped by 44 percent from the late 1970s to 2010, according to the Boston University study.

In addition, the average age when people showed symptoms rose from 80 to 85, researchers discovered.

Their findings were published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The report analyzed data from a long-running study of thousands of people in a small Massachusetts town.

While scientists don't know the exact reason for the decrease in dementia cases, they highlight two contributing factors: education level and .

People in the study who earned at least a had a much lower dementia risk than those with less education. Other studies have revealed a link between higher levels of education and better overall health.

The largest decrease was reported in dementia cases caused by stroke and other vascular diseases. People in the study who improved their heart health saw a reduction in their dementia risk.

Currently, about 5.3 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of .


Explore further

Diabetes, heart disease, smoking increase risk of death for older adults with dementia

Journal information: New England Journal of Medicine

©2016 Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Citation: Is dementia on the decline? Research suggests it might be (2016, February 26) retrieved 19 May 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-02-dementia-decline.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
11 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Feb 26, 2016
Dementia is down, cannabis use is on the rise. So what's the connection? "THC blocks an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase, which speeds the formation of amyloid plaque in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease. The Alzheimer's drugs Aricept and Cognex work by blocking acetylcholinesterase. When tested at double the concentration of THC, Aricept blocked plaque formation only 22% as well as THC, and Cognex blocked plaque formation only 7% as well as THC."

From "Marijuana May Slow Alzheimer's" WebMD. Based on the study, "A Molecular Link between the Active Component of Marijuana and Alzheimer's Disease Pathology" – full study available free at PubMed.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more