Black Americans Have Highest Risk For Dementia: Study

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People of color have a much higher risk of developing dementia than white individuals, newly released JAMA data revealed.

On Tuesday (April 19), a new study found Black Americans are 54 percent more likely to go through dementia than their white counterparts. Hispanic people are twice as likely to develop the degenerative disease, and Asians are at a 20 percent higher risk than white people.

Based on this study, it's unclear why Black people are disproportionately affected by dementia, but lack of health insurance wasn't a factor. The data was based on 1.9 million veterans who receive healthcare through the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).

Dr. Kristine Yaffe, a California professor and physician, said social determinants of health like the quality of education, nutrition, neighborhood characteristics, and discrimination experiences could explain why dementia is disproportionately affecting communities of color.

“More and more factors are found to be related to health outcomes across the life course,” Yaffe told Everyday Health.

The new data is consistent with Alzheimer's & Dementia's prior study of racial and ethnic disparities in developing dementia. African Americans were found to be at the highest risk of dementia above Latino, Pacific Islander, white, and Asian Americans.

Dr. Gwen Yeo of Stanford University of Medicine said in a statement, "Clinicians should be aware of the risk factors for dementia among ethnic and racial populations with higher rates of dementia and help control those factors, if possible.”

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