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Dementia risk study finds 11 key factors behind condition

Predictive tool ‘significantly outperforms’ others available and could help avert about 40% of cases

Scientists have identified 11 risk factors for dementia and used them to develop a tool that can predict whether someone will develop the condition in the next 14 years.

The number of people living with dementia globally is forecast to nearly triple to 153 million by 2050, and experts have said that it presents a rapidly growing threat to future health and social care systems. But targeting key risk factors, several of which involve lifestyle, could avert about 40% of cases.

A new dementia risk score, drawing on 11 mostly modifiable risk factors, can identify people at risk – from mid-life onwards – of developing the disease within the next 14 years. The findings were published in the open access journal BMJ Mental Health.

The research, led by the University of Oxford, examined data on people aged 50 to 73 taking part in two large long-term British studies – the UK Biobank study and the Whitehall II study.