On the Rust editorial team we have a regular ‘in joke’ about (and ongoing informal search for examples of) a syndrome not limited to the media but often spotted in it, i.e. reports, most often o – but not limited to – specific foods, medicines/treatments or lifestyle choices, that are hailed one week for being magically beneficial to one’s health and quality (plus quite possibly also length) of life … and then slagged off for being quite the opposite (dangerously harmful?) the next.
Or indeed a report of what appears to be great advance for mankind – followed shortly later by one suggesting something quite different is happening.
Today I can present Rusters with a case in point.
Yesterday on the front of The Times newspaper, which I purchase daily, was a very positive report on the recently-published findings of a research study conducted at Harvard University into the falling rates of dementia – a subject which for obvious reasons is of general interest to our demographic. [Sadly, because of the paywall surrounding Murdoch newspapers I am unable here to provide a link to the original].
Nevertheless, I can provide a summary of its content for those who did not see it.
The study had analysed reports and studies covering 50,000 people in the developed world. It showed that the risk of developing dementia had dropped by 13 percent over the past 27 years and much of the decline comes from plummeting rates amongst men.
In the past decade in the UK the average man’s likelihood of developing dementia had fallen by 22 percent whereas the rate amongst women had remained static. In 1995 the average 75 year old in Europe and the USA had a one in four chance of developing dementia – now it is less than one in five.
Those behind the Harvard study believe the cause is a combination of healthier lifestyles and the possibility that better educated populations have better cognitive defences to the disease/condition.
In the UK there are currently estimated to be 850,000 people living with dementia and globally the figure is 50 million. The previous estimate was that the global figure would reach 150 million by 2050 but the Harvard study now suggests it could now be up to 15 million fewer in high-income countries.
In addition Gill Livingston from University College London recently published analysis finding suggesting that, worldwide, 40% of dementias are potentially preventable. One example she gave relating to hearing – it is well known that going deaf can exacerbate dementia, thus making hearing aids more widely available and taking steps to protect older people from excessive noise could have a significant beneficial effect.
Sara Imarisio of Alzheimer’s Research UK has also pointed to the fact that there has been a radical decline in smoking amongst men is another plus because it is a key risk factor in dementia.
It seems that obvious factors such as increased exercise, having a good diet and not smoking do help to prevent or stave off the onset of dementia.
All good stuff, I think we can agree.
I was quite buoyed by reading this article and set off on my seven mile daily walk yesterday afternoon with a certain extra spring in my step.
That is, until I then spotted this piece by health reporter Vanessa Chalmers overnight on the website of the – DAILY MAIL