Amazonian Indigenous Groups Have World's Lowest Rate of Dementia

By Medscape Staff

March 10, 2022

Lack of contact with the outside world and an active lifestyle could play a role in why indigenous groups in the remote Amazon of Bolivia have some of the lowest rates of dementia in the world.   

What to know:

  • Only about 1% of members of the Tsimane and Moseten peoples of the Bolivian Amazon suffer from dementia, compared with 11% of people aged 65 and older in the United States.

  • Underscoring the profound relationship between lifestyle and cognitive health, something about the preindustrial subsistence lifestyle of the groups appears to protect older tribe members from dementia.

  • The rate of mild cognitive impairment generally accepted as typical in aging is comparable between the tribes and rates in developed countries such as the United States.

  • The Tsimane and Moseten people remain very physically active throughout their lives by fishing, hunting, and farming and experience less brain atrophy than their American and European peers.

  • Indigenous populations elsewhere in the world have been found to have high rates of dementia, which are attributed to more contact with their nonindigenous neighbors and adoption of their lifestyles.

This is a summary of the article, "Study: Some of the world's lowest rates of dementia found in Amazonian indigenous groups," published by Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association, on March 9, 2022. The full article can be found on news.ucsb.edu.

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