Around the world, 50 million people live with dementia, an incurable disease. The number is expected to surpass 150 million in three decades. The burden on the economy keeps escalating every year. However, encouraging evidence from studies in Europe reveal a decline in rates of incidence dementia. Although the prevalence still remains high, new cases have become fewer. Therefore, research has shifted focus to the role of potential modifiable factors in curbing incidence dementia. Better management of vascular risk factors over the last couple of decades has seen the risk of dementia decrease dramatically. Studies on adherence to Mediterranean diet, moderate alcohol consumption and incorporation of physical activity into daily activities suggest the risk of dementia might be modified in vulnerable population. Smokers should be encouraged and supported to give up the habit. Identification of these potential modifiable risk factors doesn’t mean that dementia can eventually be stopped, but this is a start toward decreasing the risk and improving lives of people with dementia. For this review paper, we searched for original articles and review papers in EMBASE and PubMed. Keywords were used individually or in combination in the searches. The keywords used include: dementia, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, hypercholesterolemia, cognitive reserve, physical activity, physical exercise, smoking, alcohol consumption, Mediterranean diet and hyperhomocysteinemia. We, therefore, review epidemiological longitudinal studies, with a focus on their associations with risk of dementia.
Key words: Cognitive impairment, Dementia, Diabetes mellitus, Mediterranean diet, Physical activity, Risk factors.