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For the record

Are environmental factors causing an increase in dementia? Image

Are environmental factors causing an increase in dementia?

Articles in The Times (£) and the Daily Mail on 6th August reported on a Bournemouth University study investigating deaths from neurological disease. Study author Professor Colin Pritchard was quoted in both newspapers and blamed a rise in dementia on “environmental changes in the last 20 years” and “increases in the human environment of petro-chemicals – air transport, quadrupling of motor vehicles, insecticides and rises in background electro-magnetic field.” In fact, the research did not specifically investigate dementia, nor any environmental factors.

Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Society, said:

"This paper does not specifically investigate the potential impact of environmental factors such as air travel or increases in electro-magnetic fields on cases of dementia, or indeed any neurological condition. Deaths due to dementia are increasing in many countries but we cannot conclude that this is due to increases in environmental exposure.”

 Dr Simon Ridley, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“The study found that neurological deaths in the over 75s have increased in almost all 20 countries. This highlights the growing impact of these conditions on the population but we can’t conclude that modern life is causing these conditions at a younger age.”

Document type: For The Record

Published: 7 August 2015

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