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University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa study finds dementia risk factors vary by race/ethnicity

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa recently published a new study examining the diversity in dementia risk factors across different races and ethnicities.

According to a news release from the university, the study examined 92,000 participants from the Multiethnic Cohort Study (MEC), which focuses on residents in Hawai’i and Los Angeles. Researchers disaggregated by racial and ethnic groups, including Japanese American, White, Latino, Black, and Native Hawaiian.

Previous research typically lumped Native Hawaiians in with other Asian American groups, but the new study examined data specific to Native Hawaiians.

The study found that, after a nine-year follow-up, around 16,500 patients had been diagnosed with dementia. Specifically, 24% of Black participants and 14% of Native Hawaiians.

The news release highlighted top contributing risk factors across demographics, including two findings specific to Japanese Americans and Native Hawaiians:

  • Low socioeconomic status, physical inactivity and less education were top risk factors for Native Hawaiians
  • Physical inactivity was a top risk factor for Japanese Americans

“There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, so preventing or delaying this disease by reducing controllable risk factors is an urgent public health priority,” study author and UH Cancer Center researcher Song-Yi Park, PhD, said in a news release.

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