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Dementia cases could double in 20 years, researchers say

Health researchers say there are now nearly 47 million people living with dementia around the world, up from 35 million in 2009. They warned that without a medical breakthrough, numbers will likely double every 20 years.

In a report issued on Tuesday, researchers from Alzheimer's Disease International say about 58 percent of all people with dementia live in developing countries and that by 2050, nearly half of all those with the disease will live in Asia. Numbers are expected to rise with aging populations and as more cases are identified.

Experts estimate the cost of treating dementia could jump to $1 trillion in the next three years.

The report calls for governments to adopt legislation to ensure better treatment for people with dementia, and urges the World Health Organization to create a "Dementia Action Plan" with clear targets for its 194 member states.

There is no known cure for dementia. However, there are a number of risk factors that can be controlled, such as obesity, diabetes and smoking, which may increase the odds of developing dementia.

"Risk reduction should be made a public health priority," the report states. "More money must be invested in research, with a more balanced distribution into programmes for risk reduction, treatment, care and cure."

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Alzheimer's Disease International