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Dementia: The activity in your 40s that puts you at a threefold higher risk of dementia


A study conducted by Cardiff University has revealed that a sport involving frequent, repeated blows to the head could increase the risk and speed of cognitive decline in middle-aged men. Dementia pugilistica, Latin for “fist fighter’s brain damage” has been identified in a number of sports, the most recent of which is amateur boxing. The repeated concussive impacts can have a cumulative effect over a professional or amateur career and can result in dementia years or decades after a person has quit the sport. There is growing advocacy in various sporting fields for improved safety measures around these minor but cumulative head injuries.

A 2020 report in the Lancet listed head injuries as one of 12 modifiable risk factors that are responsible for 40 percent of global dementia cases.

The full list includes lack of education, high blood pressure, hearing impairment, smoking, obesity, depression, physical inactivity, diabetes, lack of social activity, alcohol consumption, air pollution and traumatic brain injuries.

Of these, the prevalence of diabetes, hypertension and obesity are increasing and are singled out as one of the most important prevention factors.

The report recommends that people maintain a lifestyle that engages them mentally, physically and socially in midlife and beyond.

Dementia has been linked by studies to significantly lower quality of life across the board.

People with dementia are disproportionately likely to develop and die from Covid and other preventable illnesses.

The 2018 World Alzheimer report estimated the number of people living with dementia will triple by the year 2050, to 152 million.

Its overall impact on the world economy is estimated to surpass one trillion USD.

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