Dementia rates may be falling by 15% per decade

Although the number of people living with dementia is expected to rise as the world’s population ages, dementia incidence rates appear to be falling, driven by healthier lifestyles that are improving cardiovascular health, according to new research.

Albert Hofman, chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Stephen B. Kay Family Professor of Public Health and Clinical Epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, presented preliminary data at an Alzheimer’s research conference in the UK suggesting that the incidence rate of dementia in Europe and North America has declined by about 15% per decade for the past 30 years, according to a March 21, 2019 article in the Independent. Hofman said that declining incidence is more pronounced among men than women and that it’s likely driven by lifestyle changes that boost cardiovascular health.

“We know that recent decades have seen a radical decline in smoking rates for men. While many people may have been persuaded to stop smoking due to an increased risk of cancer or heart disease, it is also a key risk factor for dementia,” Hofman said. He added, though, “With other dementia risk factors such as obesity and diabetes on the rise, the decline in dementia rates may not continue for long.”

Read the article: Dementia rates are falling in Europe and the US and experts credit decline of smoking

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Light in the Shadows (Harvard Public Health magazine)

The good news about Alzheimer’s (Harvard Chan School feature)