Dementia cases fall

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The incidence of dementia has fallen by 20% in the UK over the past two decades, according to new research.

As part of the Medical Research Council Cognitive Function and Ageing Study (CFAS), researchers at the University of Cambridge, Newcastle University, Nottingham University and the University of East Anglia interviewed a baseline of 7,500 people in three regions of the UK (Cambridgeshire, Newcastle and Nottingham) and repeated the interviews after two years to estimate incidence. 20 years later, this was repeated in a new group of 7,500 people from the same localities aged 65 and over.

The study, published by the University of Cambridge in Nature Communications, suggests that the most significant change appears to have been a reduction in the rates of dementia amongst men. The study indicates that two thirds of new cases of dementia will be in women. Dr James Pickett, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society said: “This is in part due to the fact that women live longer, but it also appears that women are at a higher risk of developing dementia.” 

Approximately 210,000 new cases of dementia in the UK are still diagnosed each year.

Dr Pickett added: “It’s encouraging to see research showing that the number of new cases of people with dementia in the UK has fallen. However, people are living for longer and with other risk factors such as diabetes and obesity on the rise, there will still be over 200,000 new cases of dementia each year. That’s still an enormous number of people who require better information and health and social care support.

“Since this study began, there have substantial improvements in our understanding of dementia and many people are now being diagnosed at an earlier stage of the condition. It’s possible, therefore, that not all of these people would be identified using the methods of this study, leading to an underestimate of people with dementia.”