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Dementia problem is beyond age - Professor

Friday August 7th, 2015

The spread of dementia in the western world may not just be the result of populations ageing, according to a new study.

British researchers say that dementias are "starting" a decade earlier than in the past - and this may be the result of growing environmental pressures.

This would mean someone of 60 faces the same risk as someone of 70 25 years earlier.

Researcher Professor Colin Pritchard points to a "remarkable" increase in rates of motor neurone disease.

Professor Pritchard, of Bournemouth University, has published his findings in Surgical Neurology International.

The research studied neurological diseases in 21 western countries between 1989 and 2010.

Professor Pritchard says deaths from neurological diseases have increased "significantly" among adults aged between 55 and 74.

He said: “Crucially it is not just because people are living longer to get diseases they previously would not have lived long enough to develop but older people are developing neurological disease more than ever before.

"The environmental changes in the last 20 years have seen increases in the human environment of petro-chemicals – air transport- quadrupling of motor vehicles, insecticides and rises in background electro-magnetic-field, and so on."

He added: “These results will not be welcome news as there are many with short-term vested interests that will want to ignore them. It is not that we want to stop the modern world but rather make it safer.

"Essentially, it is time for us to wake up and realise that a major problem we now face is unprecedented levels of neurological disease, not just the earlier dementias."

Neurological deaths of American adults (55-74) and the over 75s by sex compared with 20 Western countries 1989-2010: Cause for concern? Surgical Neurology International August 2015 [abstract]

Tags: Brain & Neurology | Elderly Health | General Health | UK News | World Health

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