Technology, food additives and air pollution are causing people to develop dementia earlier than ever, says leading scientist
Modern life is causing dementia to develop earlier than ever, according to new research.
Experts have found that more people are developing the symptoms of mental decline of dementia and scientists have blamed PCs, mobile phones, chemicals and electronic devices for the shift.
The study, carried out by Bournemouth University, found that deaths as a result of neurological illness rose in all 16 countries covered by the research.
Experts at Bournemouth University say that 21st century life is not only causing a rise in dementia cases but triggering the earlier onset of the condition too
Researchers found a sharp rise in the deaths from dementia and other neurological disease in under-74s, and believe that the figures cannot be explained away by the fact we live longer.
Professor Colin Pritchard, who led the study, said: ‘[This rise] cannot be genetic because the period is too short.
‘Whilst there will be some influence of more elderly people, it does not account for the earlier onset; the differences between countries nor the fact that more women have been affected, as their lives have changed more than men’s over the period.’
Instead, the ‘epidemic’ is down to the environmental and social changes in the modern world, he claimed.
The US topped the list of Western countries with the highest increase in all neurological deaths between 1979 and 2010.
The UK had the fourth largest increase, according to World Health Organisation statistics, with men up 32 per cent and women up 48 per cent – representing a rise from 4,500 deaths to 6,500.
Within the figures there is a ‘hidden epidemic’ of deaths in adults under 74, especially the UK, according to the study published in Public Health Journal
Total neurological deaths in both men and women rose significantly in 16 of the countries covered by the research, which is in sharp contrast to the major reductions in deaths from all other causes.
Women’s neurological deaths rose faster in most countries.
Professor Colin Pritchard, from Bournemouth University, said: ‘These statistics are about real people and families, and we need to recognise that there is an ‘epidemic’ that clearly is influenced by environmental and societal changes.”
That people suffer more brain diseases, and from younger ages, is illustrated the creation of two new charities – The Young Parkinson’s Society and Young Dementia UK – which would have been inconceivable 30 years ago, he said.
‘Considering the changes over the last 30 years – the explosion in electronic devices, rises in background non-ionising radiation – PCs, microwaves, TVs, mobile phones; road and air transport up four-fold increasing background petro-chemical pollution; chemical additives to food, et cetera,’ Professor Pritchard said.
‘There is no one factor rather the likely interaction between all these environmental triggers, reflecting changes in other conditions.’