Dementia cases could be reduced by 40% worldwide if we could eliminate these 12 risk factors

Posted on: 30/09/2021

A recent study led by 28 world-leading dementia experts has revealed that the number of dementia cases worldwide could be reduced by 40% if 12 risk factors for the condition could be completely eliminated. 

The 12 risk factors, and how to combat them, have been identified as:

Poor education

Provide all children with primary and secondary education across the world.

Hearing loss

Encourage use of hearing aids for hearing loss and reduce hearing loss by protection of ears from excessive noise exposure because there is a link between hearing loss and dementia

Excessive alcohol intake

Limit alcohol use, as alcohol misuse and drinking more than 21 units weekly increases the risk of dementia.

Head injury

Moderate to severe head injuries, even without diagnosed concussions, increase the risk of cognitive impairment. You can help reduce your risk of dementia and protect your head by:

  • Wearing a seat belt
  • Using a helmet when participating in sports
  • "Fall-proofing" your home by minimizing clutter, loose rugs and poor lighting


Aim to maintain a blood pressure of 130/80 mm Hg or lower in midlife from around 40 years of age.


A poor diet can lead to obesity; current evidence suggests that heart-healthy eating may also help protect the brain. Heart-healthy eating includes limiting the intake of sugar and saturated fats and making sure to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Air pollution

Reduce exposure to air pollution and second-hand tobacco smoke.


Avoid smoking uptake and support smoking cessation to stop smoking, as this reduces the risk of dementia even in later life.


People who are anxious, depressed, sleep-deprived, or exhausted tend to score poorly on cognitive function tests. Poor scores don't necessarily predict an increased risk of cognitive decline in old age, but good mental health and restful sleep are certainly important goals.

Social isolation in later life

Strong social ties have been associated with a lower risk of dementia, as well as lower blood pressure and longer life expectancy.

Physical inactivity in later life

Remain physically active even into later life. Aim for at least 30 minutes per day of moderate intensity exercise for 5 out of 7 days each week. The ideal plan involves a combination of cardio exercise and strength training. Good activities for beginners include walking and swimming.

Diabetes in later life 

A poor, unbalanced diet can lead to obesity which is a major risk factor for diabetes and other health problems. A healthy diet is high in fibre and low in fat, cholesterol, salt, and sugar.

To read about the solutions we have in place to help people living with dementia, click here to read John’s story, a Progress Lifeline customer living with dementia.