The Early Screening Bird Beats Dementia Worm

August 6, 2010

Early screening and medical intervention for depression and diabetes, along with fruit and vegetable consumption, can lower an individual's risk of dementia by as much as 21%.

Remember all that motherly advice about eating your fruits and vegetables? Well you’re able to remember because you followed it, according to a new study published in the British Medical Journal. Fruit and vegetable consumption, along with preventing or eliminating diabetes, “are likely to have the biggest impact on reducing the incidence of dementia, outweighing even the effect of removing the principal known genetic risk factor.”

The combined effect of such efforts is enough to reduce one’s risk of falling victim to dementia by as much as 21%, however, the authors write that “diabetes, or perhaps more specifically insulin resistance, stands for the moment as the primary target,” as they were unable to “determine at which level of exposure [the other measures] provide protective effects.”

In addition to medical intervention, increasing awareness and patient literacy can have a major impact on risk reduction, by as much as 18% researchers estimate.

Positive screens for dementia itself, however, were associated with a three times greater risk of death in the first year after diagnosis than negative screens according to a second study, indicating to researchers that dementia diagnoses are coming late in the disease progression. This, they say, is a “missed opportunity for early intervention” and that “greater engagement of primary care in earlier and better detection of dementia is needed.”

"Effective prevention of diabetes, depression and heart disease could potentially improve the lives of millions of people affected by this cruel condition and reduce the billions spent on dementia care each year,” comments Clive Ballard, Director of Research at the Alzheimer's Society.