Life Extension Magazine®

Brain with red glow depicting brain aging

Win the War Against Brain Aging

Contrary to what you read in the media, the prevalence of dementia has sharply decreased in people who follow healthy lifestyles. Find out why steps you take to prevent cardiovascular disease are enabling you to win the war against degenerative brain aging.

Scientifically reviewed by Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, in August 2023. Written by: William Faloon.

William Faloon
William Faloon

The overall number of Americans afflicted with dementia is expected to triple over the next 30 years.1

The percentage of Americans that lose their functional independence, however, is sharply declining.

Whether you become a victim has a lot to do with health behavior patterns you engage in today.

People who take steps to protect against heart disease also reduce their risk of memory loss, vascular dementia, and Alzheimer’s.2

This is incredible news for those who once believed aging persons were condemned to persistent cognitive decline.

What you need to know

Although the number of Americans with dementia is on the rise, the overall percentage is declining. This is due to an increase in levels of education and better control over cardiovascular risk factors, which inadvertently decrease dementia risk. However, the scientific literature shows there is a lot more Americans can be doing to win the war against brain aging.

Each year, large numbers of the elderly are needlessly losing their minds because of unhealthy lifestyles and failure to treat disorders like hypertension and diabetes.

This article describes how people today are benefiting from preventive health strategies they began decades ago. An exciting new finding reveals how cognitive function can be restored in persons over age 64.

The term dementia is defined as a decline in cognitive abilities that leads to a loss of independent function.

An estimated 4-5 million older adults in the United States suffer dementia.3 This number is expected to triple in about 30 years.1

Not all population groups are equally encountering loss of cognitive abilities with age.

A number of published studies suggest that the age-specific risk of dementia has declined in certain population groups over the past 40 years.4,5

Dementia risk plummets in response to increasing levels of education, along with better control of cardiovascular risk factors, such as hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol.6,7

In the famous Framingham Heart Study, the incidence of dementia among older Americans declined by about 20% per decade between 1977 and 2008.4

A British study found a 24% decline in the expected number of cases of dementia between 1991 and 2011 among older adults.8 This translates to more than 200,000 fewer cases of dementia in England.

While Overall Rates of Dementia are Soaring There is a Huge Decline in Dementia Prevalence
Artistic image of a brain

Four Published Studies Reveal:

  • 20% per decade decline in dementia prevalence (1977-2008)1
  • 24% decline in expected British dementia cases (1991-2011)2
  • 42% decline in dementia prevalence in Americans (1982-1999)3
  • 24% decline in dementia prevalence in Americans (2000-2012)4
  1. “Incidence of Dementia over Three Decades in the Framingham Heart Study.” N Engl J Med. 2016;374(6):523-532. PMID: 26863354.
  2. “A two-decade comparison of prevalence of dementia in individuals aged 65 years and older from three geographical areas of England: results of the Cognitive Function and Ageing Study I and II.” Lancet. 2013;382(9902):1405-1412. PMID: 23871492.
  3. “Declining prevalence of dementia in the U.S. elderly population.” Adv Gerontol. 2005;16:30-37. PMID: 16075674.
  4. “A Comparison of the Prevalence of Dementia in the United States in 2000 and 2012.” JAMA Intern Med. 2017;177(1):51-58. PMID: 27893041.

What’s Behind the Dementia Decline?

Over the past several decades, there have been massive changes in how vascular risk factors are managed. This has translated into a remarkable 50% decrease in deaths from cardiovascular diseases in the period of 1980 to 2014.9

Steps that people take to reduce their heart attack risk also benefit their brains in ways that protect against dementia.

These preventative strategies might even offset some of the adverse impact of unhealthy lifestyles, such as excess calorie intake.

Huge Decline in Dementia Prevalence
Artistic image of a brain

Reasons for Less Dementia

  • Advances in general education levels
  • Reduce tobacco use
  • Better control of cardiovascular risk factors


“What’s the “Take Home” from Research on Dementia Trends?” PLoS Med. 2017;14(3):e1002236. PMID: 28267775.

Vascular Disease Treatments Reduce Dementia Risk

In 1990 about 23% of American adults were obese.10 By 2012, obesity prevalence jumped to 35% in adults.11

For adults over age 64, this increase in body mass corresponded with surging rates of type II diabetes. Between 1990 and 2012, type II diabetes prevalence increased from 9% to 21%.7 Diabetes is a risk factor for dementia.12,13

But what also happened was an increase in intensity of treatment for diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol. This resulted in more obese people achieving their treatment goals. It also led to a decline in vascular complications of diabetes, such as heart attack, stroke, and amputation.14

The interventions used to maintain healthy blood flow help explain the large declines in vascular-related dementia that have occurred in recent decades.4

Education Level Affects Dementia Risk

Woman reading a book

Consistent findings show that higher-educated people suffer less dementia.15

The number of Americans aged 65 or older with a high school diploma increased from 53% (in 1990) to 80% (in 2010). Americans with a college degree increased from 11% to 23% over this same period.7

Several reasons explain why more education reduces dementia risk. One is a direct effect on brain development in early years and lifelong education that builds a “cognitive reserve” of functional neurons.

Healthier lifestyle behaviors and access to better medical care are advantages higher educated people enjoy.16-18 This includes readers of Life Extension Magazine® who are a highly-motivated group of health-conscious individuals.

The differences in food choices, supplement use, and preventive medical care between higher-educated individuals compared to lower-educated grows more disparate over time.

This can be seen in geographic regions of the United States whose populations suffer from high rates of obesity, tobacco use, untreated diabetes, and shorter life spans.

Overlooked Dementia Reduction Factors
Artistic image of a brain

Healthier lifestyles patterns beginning in 1980

  • Increased supplement use1
  • Bioidentical hormones2,3
  • Improved dietary patterns


  2. “Estriol: emerging clinical benefits.” Menopause. 2017;24(9):1081-1085. PMID: 28375935.
  3. “A comprehensive review of the safety and efficacy of bioidentical hormones for the management of menopause and related health risks.” Altern Med Rev. 2006;11(3):208-223. PMID: 17217322.

Dementia Risk in Years 2000-2012

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (2017) sought to identify specific factors related to the decline in the prevalence of dementia that is occurring in the United States.

This study found that people evaluated in year 2012 had more years of education compared with the group studied in 2000.7

The 2012 group also had higher rates of self-reported cardiovascular risk factors, including obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.7

One might think these higher rates of vascular risk factors would translate into higher rates of dementia, but that’s not what happened.

Instead, dementia prevalence in persons over age 64 declined between years 2000 to 2012. After adjusting for differences across the study groups, prevalence of dementia dropped 24% during this twelve-year period.7

Factors That Reduced Dementia Risk

Man and woman embrace

In this large nationally representative survey of Americans over age 64, published by the American Medical Association, the prevalence of dementia dropped from 11.6% (in 2000) to 8.8% (in 2012).7

Two factors associated with this dementia decline were an increase in educational attainment and better control of cardiovascular risks (such as hypertension).

Prevalence of obesity and diabetes in these study subjects increased significantly between 2000 and 2012. Diabetes is associated with higher odds of dementia. Later-life obesity, on the other hand, seemed associated with cognitive advantages.7,19-21

There was an overall trend toward declining dementia risk even as diabetes incidence surged. This suggests that improvements in diabetic treatments between 2000 and 2012 may have decreased dementia risk.

These findings are consistent with the declining dementia prevalence found since 1980 in the Framingham Heart Study4 and the dementia decline between 1991-2011 in the Cognitive Function and Ageing Study in England.8

Both of these large studies pointed to increases in education and better control of cardiovascular risk factors as likely contributors to declines in dementia incidence.4,8

Conclusions from The JAMA Study

The authors of the 2017 study published in JAMA* concluded that they found a “…significant decline in dementia prevalence among older US adults between 2000 and 2012…”7

While they identified several correlations such as increased education levels, they made it clear that “… the full set of social, behavioral, and medical factors contributing to the decline in dementia prevalence is still uncertain.7

Life Extension® concurs that the reasons for the sharp declines in dementia incidences have not yet been fully accounted for.

Several factors not measured in the JAMA study relate to increases in healthy behavior patterns amongst educated people. This includes avoiding toxic foods, replacing hormones lost to aging, and the surging use of neuro-protective nutritional supplements over this same time period.

Consistent Findings Document Sharp Drops in Dementia

This JAMA analysis and others showing similar declines in dementia prevalence rates were reviewed in an article published in 2017 by PLOS Medicine.

This PLOS Medicine review opened up with data showing an astounding 42% decline in prevalence of severe cognitive impairment in Americans from 1982 to 1999.22 Similar declines in dementia prevalence were noted in data gathered in England, Stockholm, and Rotterdam around these same time periods.6

The PLOS Medicine authors then cited a Dutch study that found no declines in dementia prevalence rates amongst elderly persons and even indicators of a small increase.23

One explanation given for this discrepancy was changes in medical record coding practices during the time period of this Dutch study. This caused more Dutch people to fall into the dementia diagnostic category, and hence increased the incidence of dementia in elderly persons.

They point out how these kinds of statistical discrepancies can skew data in ways that yield inconsistent findings amongst different studies.

The PLOS Medicine authors then point to evidence suggesting increasing dementia prevalence in East Asia, particularly in China. This is consistent with worsening cardiovascular risk profiles in many Asian countries, including rising rates of smoking, obesity, and metabolic disease.22

Asians face epidemics of metabolic disorders relating to their ingesting a higher proportion of toxic Western foods.

Controlling the Dementia Epidemic

The PLOS Medicine authors make it clear that we must prepare for increased overall numbers of people with dementia as the population ages.

That said, the PLOS Medicine authors describe “substantial evidence” that supports the following protective factors against risk of late-life dementia:

  • Advances in general education levels (especially in early life);
  • Socio-economic well-being, and most importantly;
  • Better control of cardio-vascular risk factors (especially in mid-life).

Emphasis was placed on controlling diabetes and hypertension while reducing smoking and obesity. The following is an excerpt of the author’s concluding remarks:

“Dementia prevention should drive public health campaigns around beneficial lifestyle practices such as healthy eating and habitual exercise.22

How This Applies to Readers of Life Extension Magazine®

Longtime readers of this publication have been urged to keep blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, and other cardiovascular risk factors in low normal ranges.

We’ve published numerous articles linking impairments in vascular health with cognitive impairment.24,25

Those who have followed healthy lifestyle patterns are reaping huge rewards by winning the war against degenerative brain aging.26

While people of all ages can take steps to reduce dementia risk, many who led unhealthy lifestyles in their earlier years face greater risk of neurological impairments.

Fortunately, there are ways to help reverse mild cognitive impairment and even early-stage Alzheimer’s that were chronicled years ago in this magazine.24,27-30 Many of you follow these healthy lifestyles, along with natural hormone replenishment and proper use of supplements.

Restoring Lost Cognitive Functions

Back in the 1980s, people seeking to boost cognitive functions supplemented with lecithin and choline nutrients that convert to acetylcholine in the brain.

Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that transmits signals from one neuron (brain cell) to another in the brain.

Neurotransmitters may be thought of as messengers of the brain. They originate naturally within our body and assist in delivering messages between our neurons.

Acetylcholine levels are regulated by an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase. An efficient way to boost acetylcholine in the brain is to reduce activity of the enzyme (acetylcholinesterase) that degrades this vital neurotransmitter (acetylcholine).

In normal brains, a proper balance of acetylcholine and acetylcholinesterase optimizes cognitive function.

In some cases of neurodegeneration, acetylcholinesterase activity can increase in the vicinity of the brain dealing with hallmarks of Alzheimer’s (amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles).

Furthermore, an increase in an inactive form of acetylcholinesterase may increase deposition of amyloid plaque. 31

These findings suggest that inhibiting acetylcholinesterase can help protect against structural changes seen in Alzheimer’s brains. 32

A Plant-Derived Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitor

Tincture bottle surrounded by leaves

A natural inhibitor of the acetylcholinesterase enzyme has been discovered in a novel extract from sage.

In a controlled study of people over age 64, this sage extract demonstrated a nearly:33

  • 60% increase in short-term memory performance
  • 2.5-fold improvement in accuracy of attention

In addition to rapid enhancements in human cognitive performances, this particular sage extract extended average lifespan by 12% in the C. elegans model.34 This indicates additional beneficial mechanisms that are described in an article beginning on page 24 of this month’s issue.

Sage extracts have recently become available as supplements for cognition support. Even some “generic” sage extracts have favorable acetylcholinesterase-modulating activities.35,36 However, they do not increase lifespan when tested by same assay technology in C. elegans .

Protect Your Brain Against Stroke

Newly published research reveals that people who make healthy lifestyle choices reduce their risk of neurodegenerative disorders.

Consistent with these findings are studies showing that higher intakes of magnesium may slash stroke risk by 41%,37 while people with higher blood levels of CoQ10 suffer less brain damage if they to suffer a stroke.38

Articles in this month’s issue describe protective effects against neurodegeneration that readers of this publication have long enjoyed. It is regrettable that large segments of the public are unaware of these scientific findings.

Annual Super Sale

For the 30th consecutive year, we are discounting the price of all our advanced nutritional formulas.

Long-time readers take advantage of this annual sale, along with additional discounts to obtain premium-grade nutrients at the year’s best pricing.

This year’s Super Sale ends on January 31st, 2019. With the free shipping available to Premier Reward’s customers, consider ordering what you need now and then prepare your longer list in January 2019.

As many of you are aware, our commitment to quality is backed by our relentless efforts to abolish degenerative aging in our lifetime.

You are Ahead of the Curve

The studies described in this article validate how the healthy lifestyles many of you follow have resulted in huge declines in the percent of older Americans who will suffer the indignities of dementia.

Our track record dating back to the early 1980s reveals we have been decades ahead of the medical mainstream in identifying proven methods to prevent degenerative illnesses.

To order supplements at low Super Sale prices, call 1-800-544-4440 (24 hours) and speak with a knowledgeable customer representatives and/or Wellness Specialist.

For longer life,

For Longer Life

William Faloon, Co-Founder

Life Extension Buyers Club


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