According to a recent study, the number of men developing dementia in the UK has dropped substantially.1
The study, which originated from the universities of Cambridge and Newcastle, examined dementia trends over a period of 20 years. It found a significant fall in the number of people over 65 showing signs of dementia between two time periods (1989-94 and 2008-11).
The rates amongst older men of 80 and over dropped even more significantly, with the numbers close to halving. The study also looked at dementia in women and although these rates also fell, they were by a much smaller amount.
While the study couldn’t tell us exactly why this was the case, one theory is that increased health awareness (reduced smoking levels, taking more exercise and eating more healthily) amongst men may be linked to the lower numbers. However, this theory is unproven.
It should also be stated that the numbers of participants were relatively low, especially amongst the older age group. It’s noteworthy too that the criteria for diagnosing dementia changed across the study, and so people who were not diagnosed with dementia in 1991 may be diagnosed with the condition today.
While the results are undoubtedly encouraging, they have been met with caution. We do know however the best way of reducing the risk of dementia is to stay active, remain a healthy weight and maintain a social life as we get older.
1 Matthews FE, Stephan BCM, Robinson L, et al. A two decade dementia incidence comparison from the Cognitive Function and Ageing Studies I and II. Nature Communications. Published online April 19 2016
Dementia rate falls as men behave themselves. The Times, April 20 2016
Drop in dementia rates suggests disease can be prevented, researchers say. The Guardian, April 19 2016
Why men are leading the fight against dementia: Better diets, more exercise and quitting smoking means ‘cases are a fifth lower than expected’. Daily Mail, April 20 2016
‘New men’ winning dementia battle as healthy lifestyles prevent 40,000 cases a year. The Daily Telegraph, April 19 2016
Dementia threat ‘may be less severe’ than predicted. BBC News, April 19 2016
DeMENtia drop: Chances of healthy-living males getting dementia halves. The Sun, April20 2016
New study reveals a ‘20% fall in new cases of dementia’ in past two decades. ITV News, April 19 2016