What helps prevent dementia? Try exercise, not vitamin pills

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Dementia affects around 50 million people globally, with almost 10 million new cases annually - a figure that is set to triple by 2050, while the cost of caring for dementia patients is expected to hit $2 trillion by 2030, WHO Assistant Director General Ren Minghui wrote in the report.

Fiona Carragher, chief policy and research officer at Alzheimer's Society, said: "Dementia is the biggest health challenge of our generation, so the WHO's clear commitment to spearheading the global fight against the condition through a public health approach is to be welcomed".

Indeed, the number of people likely to have dementia is expected to triple, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

"We need to do everything we can to reduce our risk of dementia", Ghebreyesus said.

Today, the World Health Organization released new guidelines that provide specific steps for reducing the risk of cognitive decline, and while dementia most commonly affects older people, the World Health Organization points out that it is not a normal part of aging and there are many lifestyle changes we can make earlier on to reduce our risk of dementia.

Stopping smoking, a healthy diet and avoiding harmful use of alcohol were also among the recommendations of the WHO's report, entitled "Risk reduction of cognitive decline and dementia".

The costs of caring for people with dementia is expected to rise to $2 trillion (roughly €1.8 trillion) per year by 2030.

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The report said that although age is the strongest known risk factor for cognitive decline, dementia is not a natural or inevitable outcome of ageing.

We need to do everything we can to reduce our risk of dementia. The advice is to get regular exercise, not smoke, avoid harmful use of alcohol, control weight, eat a healthy diet, maintain healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

The agency said its new recommendations could provide the key to delaying or slowing cognitive decline or dementia.

Dementia results from a variety of diseases and injuries that affect the brain, such as Alzheimer disease or stroke.

They will also be useful to governments, policy makers and planning authorities as a guide in developing policy and designing programmes that encourage healthy lifestyles.

Neerja Chowdhary, a World Health Organization expert, said that the study had not looked at smoking marijuana and did not include environmental factors, although there was some evidence of a link with pollution, and there was too little evidence of a link with poor sleep to include it in the recommendations.

And they hint that an active social life could also be beneficial, pointing to studies showing that social disengagement can place older individuals at increased risk of cognitive impairment.

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