TitleGeographical variation in dementia: examining the role of environmental factors in Sweden and Scotland.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsRuss, TC, Gatz, M, Pedersen, NL, Hannah, J, Wyper, G, Batty, GD, Deary, IJ, Starr, JM
Date Published03/2015
KeywordsAdult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Bayes Theorem, Child, Cohort Studies, Dementia, Diseases in Twins, Environment, Female, Genetic Predisposition to Disease, Health Surveys, Humans, Logistic Models, Male, Middle Aged, Risk Factors, Scotland, Sweden

BACKGROUND: This study aimed to estimate the magnitude of geographical variation in dementia rates and suggest explanations for this variation. Small-area studies are scarce, and none has adequately investigated the relative contribution of genetic and environmental factors to the distribution of dementia.

METHODS: We present 2 complementary small-area hierarchical Bayesian disease-mapping studies using the comprehensive Swedish Twin Registry (n = 27,680) and the 1932 Scottish Mental Survey cohort (n = 37,597). The twin study allowed us to examine the effect of unshared environmental factors. The Scottish Mental Survey study allowed us to examine various epochs in the life course-approximately age 11 years and adulthood.

RESULTS: We found a 2- to 3-fold geographical variation in dementia odds in Sweden, after twin random effects-likely to capture genetic and shared environmental variance-were removed. In Scotland, we found no variation in dementia odds in childhood but substantial variation, following a broadly similar pattern to Sweden, by adulthood.

CONCLUSIONS: There is geographical variation in dementia rates. Most of this variation is likely to result from unshared environmental factors that have their effect in adolescence or later. Further work is required to confirm these findings and identify any potentially modifiable socioenvironmental risk factors for dementia responsible for this geographical variation in risk. However, if these factors do exist and could be optimized in the whole population, our results suggest that dementia rates could be halved.

Alternate JournalEpidemiology
PubMed ID25575031
PubMed Central IDPMC4467562
Grant List / / Medical Research Council / United Kingdom
/ / Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council / United Kingdom
R01 AG008724 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
MR/K026992/1 / / Medical Research Council / United Kingdom
R01 AG 08724 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
G0700704 / / Medical Research Council / United Kingdom
R03 AG031262 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States