With dementia cases set to triple, WHO issues guide to cut risk

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With dementia cases set to triple, WHO issues guide to cut risk

"As numerous risk factors for dementia are shared with those of non-communicable diseases, the key recommendations can be effectively integrated into programmes for tobacco cessation, cardiovascular disease risk reduction and nutrition".

In addition, the report noted that even though age is a major risk factor for dementia, cognitive decline is not an inevitable effect of old age. He highlighted the condition as a global health priority.

"While some people are unlucky and inherit a combination of genes that makes it highly likely they will develop dementia, many people have the opportunity to substantially reduce their risk by living a healthy lifestyle", Tara Spires-Jones, a professor at the University of Edinburgh and program leader at the UK Dementia Research Institute, told the Science Media Center Tuesday.

According to the guidelines, people can reduce their risk of dementia by getting regular exercise, not smoking and avoiding harmful use of alcohol.

Eating well, and possibly following a Mediterranean-style diet, may help prevent dementia, the guidelines say.

They take a firm stance against vitamin pills, fish oil and other supplements, saying there's strong evidence they don't prevent mental decline.

"There is now no evidence to show that taking these supplements actually reduces the risk of cognitive decline and dementia, and in fact, we know that in high doses these can be harmful", said the WHO's Dr Neerja Chowdhary.

The WHO also did not endorse games and other activities aimed at boosting thinking skills.

Carol Routledge, director of Research at Alzheimer's Research UK, said dementia was the leading cause of death in Britain, but only 34 per cent of adults realised they could reduce the risk, and the World Health Organization report helped to clarify what was known and where evidence was lacking.

It is a rapidly growing public health problem affecting around 50 million people globally.

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