World Health Organization Issues Recommendations to Lower Dementia Risk

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Engaging in physical activity and not smoking top the list of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendations for a lifestyle that will reduce the risks of developing dementia. Addressing the topic of dementia for the first time, in 2019, WHO issued these and other recommendations that address potentially modifiable risk factors after examining available evidence and synthesizing the findings.

In its evidence-based recommendations, WHO also strongly recommends managing hypertension and diabetes, using lifestyle interventions or medications. While some people take vitamins B and E, omega-3 fatty acids, or multivitamins in the hopes of reducing the risk of cognitive decline or dementia, WHO does not recommend this strategy. Studies show that these supplements and vitamins are unhelpful in reducing risk, and at high doses, they may actually be harmful.

Other WHO recommendations for reducing the risk of cognitive decline or dementia in adults with normal cognition or mild cognitive impairment (MCI) are following the Mediterranean-style diet and reducing or stopping harmful drinking. WHO indicated that with regard to other sometimes touted risk-reducing activities—such as cognitive training, managing overweight, using antidepressant medicines or hearing aids, or engaging in social activity—evidence of efficacy is lacking, though these activities may be beneficial for overall good health.