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Native Hawaiians at higher risk for dementia

Native Hawaiians have a higher risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia compared to all, but one other group studied, researchers from University of Hawaii at Manoa in Honolulu found, Medical Express reports.

The study followed a group of almost 92,000 senior citizens with an average age of 59 over nine years. 7% of those studied were Native Hawaiians, 34% Japanese Americans, 28% Whites, 19% Latinos and 12% were Black.

Out of the total group, 18 out 100 people developed Alzheimer’s or other dementias. 24% were Black and 14% Native Hawaiian. That’s two times their rate of participation in the study for both.

“The disparity for Black people has been reported by previous studies,” the study’s author Unhee Lim, Ph.D., said. “However, our study also discovered a disparity for Native Hawaiians, who we analyzed separately from Asian Americans. Native Hawaiians are often grouped with Asian Americans in research. However, studies have consistently shown Asian Americans have the lowest risk for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia.”

The good news is that many of the risk factors for Alzheimer’s can be controlled by individuals who want to minimize their risk, reports Hawaiian Public Radio.

The study found that among Native Hawaiians, physical inactivity or less education are factors that contribute to memory loss.

Both diabetes and physical inactivity are major factors for Japanese Americans, the study found.

Among Latinos, it’s diabetes, less education and low socioeconomic status.

For Blacks, the risk factors include low socioeconomic status, minimal social contact and high blood pressure.

Smoking and low socioeconomic status increase the risk for Whites.

Meanwhile an analysis of dozens of studies found people of color receive a lower quality of care for Alzheimer’s and dementia than Whites, New Scientists reports. However, the analysis found very little information about Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and Native Americans with dementia.

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