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The damaged brain: How drugs cause dementia

MagazineDecember 2010 (Vol. 21 Issue 9)The damaged brain: How drugs cause dementia

Dementia of all varieties, including Alzheimer's disease, is now epidemic, approaching an incidence similar to that of the major killers: for instance, seven million Americans aged over 65 are currently diagnosed with dementia compared with 10 million of all ages with cancer

Dementia of all varieties, including Alzheimer's disease, is now epidemic, approaching an incidence similar to that of the major killers: for instance, seven million Americans aged over 65 are currently diagnosed with dementia compared with 10 million of all ages with cancer.

Furthermore, the incidence rates of dementia are sharply on the increase. Predictions suggest that the disorder will increase fourfold among the elderly within the next 40 years, and escalate across all age groups.

Nevertheless, the raw statistics fail to reveal the most insidious aspect of the disease-namely, that the chances that any one of us will suffer from dementia sharply increases with every decade. According to one team of researchers, who tracked the incidence of the disorder over time, after the age of 60, your risk of developing dementia doubles every five years. This means that, by the time you reach your mid-80s, you face a one-in-four risk of having dementia and, by the time you reach 90, the odds increase to one chance in three (Alzheimer Dis Assoc Dis, 2003; 17: 63-7).

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