Anaemia - higher risk of dementia?

Anaemia linked to higher risk of dementia – Alzheimer’s Society comment

Anaemia and low levels of iron in blood may be linked to increased risk of dementia according to new research published in Neurology on Wednesday 31 July 2013.

Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco tested 2,552 adults between ages 70 and 79 for anaemia and administered memory and thinking tests over the course of 11 years. People who had anaemia at the beginning of the study were 41 per cent more likely to develop dementia than those who did not. 23 per cent of the 393 people in the study who had anaemia developed dementia compared to 17 per cent of the 2,159 people without anaemia who developed dementia.

Alzheimer’s Society comment:

‘Maybe our parents were right to tell us that we should eat more spinach. This interesting research suggests that lower iron levels may have a link with cognitive health later on in life. However, more research is needed and we shouldn’t make the jump to claim that anaemia causes dementia. The changes may be linked to disrupted oxygen flow to the brain or, indeed, poor health overall.

The best way to reduce your risk of dementia is to lead a healthy lifestyle. Enjoy a balanced Mediterranean diet rich in fruit and vegetables, oily fish and even the occasional glass of red wine, take regular exercise and don’t smoke.’

Dr Doug Brown

Director of Research   Alzheimer’s Society

  • One in three people over 65 will develop dementia
  • Alzheimer’s Society research shows that 800,000 people in the UK have a form of dementia, more than half have Alzheimer’s disease. In less than ten years a million people will be living with dementia. This will soar to 1.7 million people by 2051
  • Alzheimer’s Society champions the rights of people living with dementia and the millions of people who care for them
  • Alzheimer’s Society works in England, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • Alzheimer’s Society has a plan to deal with dementia. Help us support people to live well today and fight for a world without dementia tomorrow. We rely on voluntary donations to continue our vital work. You can donate now by calling 0845 306 0898 or visiting
  • Alzheimer’s Society provides a National Dementia Helpline, the number is 0300 222 11 22 or visit
©  Alzheimer's Society - 31st July 2013

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