Autoimmune disorders may raise risk of dementia

I have just read a very short article in The Daily Telegraph written by Sarah Knapton the science editor, it has been taken from the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

I would be interested in PMR pro's comments on the figures quoted. There will be many of us on the forum who have a number of autoimmune conditions and I am sure this will receive more media coverage in the near future. I know we lay people struggle to understand the way statistics are quoted and can end up more confused and mislead rather than informed.

For example, it states, People with psoriasis have a 29% increased chance of developing dementia. Well I know if that were the case we would be aware so this is why we need our resident expert. Sorry m'dear do you mind interpreting it for us at some stage.

Many thanks


10 Replies

  • Can't read it I'm afraid as they charge for reading online - and I'm not keen enough on the paper to pay ;-)

    However - I do wish they would stop this rubbish of quoting "increase in risk" which is fairly meaningless but does sound statistically very exciting!

    If 1 person in a million healthy persons develops a condition and some additional risk factor means that 2 people in a million will develop it - that is a doubling of the rate, but in absolute terms it is still pretty rare.

    Basically - if the rate of something is very rare, doubling the risk still leaves it as pretty rare!

    If on the other hand, 20 people out of a hundred develop a problem and factor x increases the rate by 30%, then 30 out of a hundred will then develop it - perhaps rather more concerning.

    Does that make sense? I'm sure there is a better way of expressing it - but it escapes me at the moment!

    Anyway - a quick google shows that is just part of the story: it depends on the autoimmune disorder and whether they were treated for their autoimmune disorder.

    "According to the analysis, people with multiple sclerosis are among those with autoimmune disorders who are most likely to develop dementia. ... However, people with rheumatoid arthritis turned out to have around a 10 per cent lower risk of dementia." says the New Scientist. And their article is quite good I think:

    I have to say - I'm very pleased about one of their findings - because it is something I have suspected for some time due to what I hear people on the forums saying: there is a higher risk for cardiovascular problems. I did ask about that - and was told it was only a small increase in risk so is not made a fuss about. Well - I think it should be and we should be monitored better!

    And I nearly forgot - all the more reason for taking pred and not deciding pred is bad, no pred is good. Because - as I have said countless time - the unmanaged inflammation is doing damage.

  • The research for the Telegraph article was published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. I thought the Telegraph article a bit wishy washy. I am not sure the person who wrote it really understood what she was talking about. She says that they looked at eighteen auto immune diseases. She also says that the chances of Alzheimers in RA drops while the chances of dementia in RA goes up. Possible I suppose??

    She also says people with autoimmune disease were 53 per cent more likely to be admitted subsequently for coronary heart disease and 46 per cent more likely to be admitted with a stroke. I get the feeling of use and abuse of statistics.

  • They just take the numbers that make headlines, it is their job to sell stuff after all. I think they are saying that a possible cause of dementia is vascular inflammation (it is one form of dementia after all) and in RA patients this inflammation is controlled by the medication. Alzheimers is a different mechanism and probably related to something other than vasculitis.

  • Or - as we say in Engineering, PMRPro - 2 times s*d-all is still s*d-all..........😀

  • Quite... ;-)

  • I read an article that red wine increases dementia, calamity. In fact I have read a myriad of articles of things that increase dementia and things that decrease the chances of dementia. Some are probably the same thing. The truth is they do not really know!

  • If you live long enough you will develop cancer of some sort and/or dementia. And we are all living longer. If you don't die of one thing you will die of another - there is no escaping it.

    If red wine increased dementia risk - you would expect all of Italy and France to be totally demented. They are not.

  • Love this! 😂😂😂 Thanks, made me smile! 😄

  • Ah no don't say that😊

  • I'm a bit late on this one but the one thing the Daily Telegraph is expert at is "May, Might, Could, There is a Possibilty of/that" and so on... they LOVE statistics which are, as PMRpro implies, easy to mislead.

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