The Dementia Dirty Dozen

The Dementia Dirty Dozen

Our mission at Big Brain Place is simple. We believe that everyone, at any age, can have a bigger, better brain. And that we want our brainspan to match our lifespan. We want to do our part to make that happen. 

One of the biggest enemies to increasing our brainspan is dementia. In this issue, we explore the biggest risk factors that could prevent our brains being healthy throughout life. 

Ronan Factora, MD, geriatrician at the Cleveland Clinic noted that addressing the causes of dementia is important, because some prevention is possible. He noted: “It’s particularly worthwhile because for older adults, the fear of dementia is really strong, even more than the fear of cancer. People are more afraid of that than anything else”. 

The Dementia Dirty Dozen 

The Lancet is one of the two or three most respected medical journals in the world. It solicited sponsorship for a broad study on dementia and subsequently assembled a large team of researchers to review the scope, risks and trends in dementia and its treatment. The researchers published a report in 2017 listing nine area of concern for increasing incurrence of some form of dementia.  Recently, the Lancet reported an update to that study and added three more factors. The Cleveland Clinic has labeled it the Dementia Dozen

According to that study, about 50 million people around the world currently have the effects of dementia. Lancet projects that to triple over the next 30 years. Nonetheless, the Lancet report has some optimism: “Modifying 12 risk factors might prevent or delay up to 40% of dementias.” 

Here are the risks: 

  1. A low level of education 
  2. Hypertension 
  3. Obesity 
  4. Hearing loss 
  5. Depression 
  6. Diabetes 
  7. Physical activity 
  8. Smoking 
  9. Social isolation 
  10. Excessive alcohol consumption 
  11. Traumatic brain injury 
  12. Exposure to air pollution 

                        Factors numbered 10 through 12 are the recent additions. 

                        From the report: 

                        It is never too early and never too late in the life course for dementia prevention. Early life (younger than 45 years) risks such as less education, affect cognitive reserve; midlife (45-65) and later life (older than 65) risk factors influence reserve and triggering of neuropathological developments. 

                        Our Observations 

                        Long time readers will recognize that we’ve discussed many of these risks before. For new readers, or long-time subscribers who would like to refresh their memory on these factors and strategies to reduce the risks, here are some links to prior posts.  Such as research findings on exercise and Alzheimer’s Diseasehow far you need to walk to get good health benefits,  and what kinds are most beneficial with links here. The dangers of isolation and what to do about it here. How depression affects the brain and possible remedies.  Additional information on controlling blood pressure in this post. We haven’t mentioned smoking, well, because we didn’t think we even needed to. And we’ve covered the risks of too much alcohol consumption and specific research on what practical limits might be (links here and here ) so many times that readers probably think we are nagging. Hearing loss is just showing up as a risk factor. For most folks a hearing aid deals with that; in some cases, reports of noticeable changes in cognition happen surprisingly quickly. We are reviewing new research on diabetes and plan to include thoughts on those research findings in our next issue. 

                         A reminder: no one at Big Brain Place is a medical researcher, much less a medical doctor or medical professional of any type. If there is something on that risk list that gets your attention, discuss it with your physician pronto. 

                        More Brain-Building Ideas

                        I founded Big Brain Place because I saw how fast science is discovering the secrets to brain health, and realized how little I knew about it. Clearly I couldn't be the only one not familiar with the possible actions that can optimize brain health.  At www.BigBrain.Place, we are on a mission to help everyone, at any age, improve cognition, reduce the risk of dementia, insure our children have the opportunity to develop maximum brain capacity, and, in general, make our brainspans match our lifespans.

                        Are you taking the steps now to prevent dementia later in life?

                        Could you use some science-based brain building ideas?

                        Please consider our book: Grow Your Brain Anyone, At Any Age, Can Have a Bigger, Better Brain. It contains insight on those questions and much more. It is now available at a  book store near you, at www.BigBrain.Place, and at in both print and Kindle formats. 

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