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New evidence sheds light on dementia risk

News, 20 July 2017

People with learning disabilities have less equal opportunities around education and social interaction and these issues have now been identified as dementia risk factors.


New evidence published in respected journal The Lancet today sheds light on why people with learning disabilities may be more prone to developing dementia.

Previous research highlighted on Learning Disability Today earlier this month identified that one in three people with Down’s Syndrome will develop dementia in their 50s and one in ten with a learning disability will develop young onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Nine lifestyle factors that contribute to the risk of dementia are being presented by Lancet researchers at an Alzheimer's Association International Conference in London today:

  • Mid-life hearing loss - responsible for 9% of the risk
  • Failing to complete secondary education - 8%
  • Smoking - 5%
  • Failing to seek early treatment for depression - 4%
  • Physical inactivity - 3%
  • Social isolation - 2%
  • High blood pressure - 2%
  • Obesity - 1%
  • Type 2 diabetes - 1%

The risk factors related to education and social isolation add up to 10%. 

Statistically, people with learning disabilities have less equal opportunities around education and social interaction, as evidenced by the Equality and Human Rights Commission in their 2013 evaluation.