With dementia cases set to triple, World Health Organization issues guide to cut risk

  • With dementia cases set to triple, World Health Organization issues guide to cut risk

With dementia cases set to triple, World Health Organization issues guide to cut risk

According to World Health Organization spokesperson Neerja Chowdhary, the study did not take into account the effect of smoking marijuana or environmental factors on the risk of dementia, although there is some evidence that poor sleep and pollution may also be linked to dementia.

The health body has published its first guidelines to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia - a condition that affects nearly 350,000 Australians and 50 million people around the world. Each year brings 10 million new cases, says the report released today by the World Health Organisation.

The UN agency said that a healthy lifestyle appeared to help keep cognitive decline at bay. "The scientific evidence gathered for these Guidelines confirm what we have suspected for some time, that what is good for our heart, is also good for our brain", Ghebreyesus added.

Although age is the top risk factor, "dementia is not a natural or inevitable effect of aging", it says.

Dementia results from a variety of diseases and injuries that affect the brain, such as Alzheimer disease or stroke. As for its causes, Alzheimer's disease is one of the most common causes of dementia and is the leading cause of death in the U.S.

People should eat more fruit, vegetables, fish and nuts and walk for about 25 minutes a day to reduce their risk of dementia, the first worldwide guidance of its kind has concluded.

The agency said its new recommendations could provide the key to delaying or slowing cognitive decline or dementia.

The dementia guidelines don't stray from standard health advice: Meet the weekly physical activity guidelines (outlined here); adhere to healthy eating guidelines, particularly a Mediterranean-style diet; don't smoke; don't drink alcohol beyond the amount deemed to be low-risk; maintain a healthy weight, and healthy blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

And they hint that an active social life could also be beneficial, pointing to studies showing that social disengagement can place older individuals at increased risk of cognitive impairment.

While loneliness is linked to dementia, there was insufficient evidence to recommend "social activity" to avoid the risk - but the guidelines nevertheless prescribed "social participation and social support" for good health and wellbeing.