Lancet Journal


Modifying 12 risk factors over the life course could delay or prevent 40% of dementia cases

With Dalhousie University holding rank as one of the top leading institutions in frailty and aging research in the world, Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) is proud to share the latest findings in the most recent report of the Lancet Journal. The Lancet is a world leading, independent, international weekly general medical journal that strives to make science widely available so that medicine can serve, and transform society, and positively impact the lives of people. 

This latest report finds that 40 per cent of dementia cases could be prevented or delayed by targeting 12 risk factors throughout life. Led by 28 world-leading dementia experts, including Dalhousie’s Dr. Kenneth Rockwood, the report builds on the 9 risk factors identified in the 2017 Lancet Commission [2], and provides an up-to-date analysis of the best evidence on the prevention of dementia. Dr. Rockwood, who is considered a top-rated frailty expert in the world, has long since been supported by DMRF donors and holds the prestigious the DMRF Kathryn Allen Weldon Professor of Alzheimer’s Research. 

Dr. Rockwood, along with the other dementia experts in this report, call for nations and individuals to be ambitious about preventing dementia and lay out a set of policies and lifestyle changes to help prevent dementia. Experts add excessive alcohol intake and head injury in mid-life, and exposure to air pollution in later life, to the list of key modifiable risk factors for dementia – expanding the number of preventable causes from 9 to 12 factors that span from childhood to later life. The report also highlights 9 recommendations for policymakers and individuals to help reduce risk, including providing primary and secondary education for all children, decreasing harmful alcohol drinking, preventing head injury, using hearing aids and protecting ears from high noise levels, and urgently improving air quality. The potential to prevent cases of dementia is high, and the biggest impact is likely to be seen in low- and middle-income countries where two-thirds of cases occur. Modifying 12 risk factors over the life course could delay or prevent 40% of dementia cases, according to an update to The Lancet Commission on dementia prevention, intervention, and care, which is being presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC 2020). Many of these are risks factors for frailty as well, and may help to explain why frailty makes it more likely that people who develop the abnormal Alzheimer proteins are more likely not just to have them, but for them to be visible as dementia.