Tackling depression and diabetes, as well as increasing intake of fruit and vegetables, could hold the key to reducing the number of dementia cases, according to a study.
The research, published in the BMJ, selected a group of 1,400 elderly people, testing them for signs of dementia after two, four and seven years.
British and French researchers also recorded weight, height, monthly income, alcohol consumption, education level, tobacco use, mobility and dietary habits, as well as giving participants a reading test as a measure of intelligence.
They estimated that eliminating diabetes and depression, as well as increasing fruit and vegetable consumption, could lead to an overall 21% drop in new cases of dementia
If the main known genetic risk factor for the disease was also tackled, 7% more cases could be prevented.
Professor Clive Ballard, director of research at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “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.”