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  1. ITV Report

'Dementia timebomb' not as big as feared, according to new study

There are thought to be 40,000 fewer new cases of dementia each year in the UK than was predicted 20 years ago. Credit: REUTERS/Mark Richards/pool

The so-called 'dementia timebomb' may not be as big as originally feared, new research suggests.

According to the findings of a Cognitive Function and Ageing Study brain, published in the journal Nature Communications, health appears to be significantly improving, "particularly among men".

As a result there are thought to be 40,000 fewer new cases of dementia each year in the UK than was predicted 20 years ago.

Dr Rob Buckle, director of science programmes at the MRC, which funded the study, said it was "promising news" that dementia rates had dropped by such a significant amount and described the fall as a "testament to the benefits of an increased awareness of a brain-healthy lifestyle".

Professor Carol Brayne, who co-led the study, added that benefits of investing in improving the population's brain health appeared to be paying off.

Our findings suggest that brain health is improving significantly in the UK across generations, particularly among men, but that deprivation is still putting people at a disadvantage.

The UK in earlier eras has seen major societal investments into improving population health and this appears to be helping protect older people from dementia.

– Professor Carol Brayne

An estimated 850,000 people in the UK are living with dementia and predictions based on earlier incidence rates had anticipated that by now there would be 250,000 new cases of dementia recorded each year.

However evidence extrapolated from recent research findings have shown scientists now estimate that in the UK there are just under 210,000 new cases of dementia each year - 74,000 from men and 135,000 from women.