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dementia rates in the UK

As ageing populations increase, fears of a dementia ‘tsunami’ have grown, with some suggesting that dementia will be the main threat to future health and leading the Prime Minister to announce his dementia 2020 challenge. However, recent research has suggested that the number of cases may be more complicated than we initially thought.

In a new study, published in Nature Communications, researchers compared the actual number of dementia cases in the UK to earlier decades and previous predictions. These insights can tell us more about whether preventative measures are working and what this means for the future.

Journalists came along to the Science Media Centre to hear about issues such as:

  • Is an individual person more or less likely to get dementia than they were a decade ago?
  • Are different dementia types affected differently?
  • Do we know which preventions are having the greatest effect?
  • Is the change in rates the same for men as women? If not, why not?
  • How will the predicted obesity epidemic in children affect dementia rates?
  • Is there more that individuals can do themselves to reduce their risk in the future?
  • If we cut smoking and bad diets completely, what proportion of dementia would we get rid of? Can we simply solve this problem by being healthier?

Roundup comments accompanied this briefing.



Prof. Carol Brayne, Professor of Public Health Medicine, Director of the Cambridge Institute of Public Health, University of Cambridge

Prof. Fiona Matthews, MRC Biostatistics Unit, Cambridge Institute of Public Health, University of Cambridge (via telephone)

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