Living in a wealthy area 'decreases risk of dementia'

By YOU
18 July 2010

Leading a comfortable suburban life may protect against dementia, new research has discovered.

Experts have linked factors such as limited access to healthy food, low levels of education and pollution to the health of the brain, noting those who reside in wealthier areas are less at risk of dementia than people living in less well-off locations.

Dementia comes in different forms, the most common of which is Alzheimer’s, and is identified by personality changes, memory disorders and impaired reasoning.

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Scientists at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health looked into the socioeconomic status of 1,479 people and tested their cognitive skills through memory, learning and verbal tasks.

Those living in wealthy areas had average or above-average scores on the tests compared to those in more deprived spots, who had lower marks all round. Those in poorer locations were around 25 per cent lower than average with their results, despite their age and education level.

A low cognitive function has been linked to Alzheimer’s and after testing the spinal fluid of 153 of the subjects, the people in the less fortunate homes also showed higher levels of a protein which can trigger the disease.

“People living in neighbourhoods with the highest level of disadvantage had much worse cognitive performance in all aspects even after adjusting for age and education,” lead researcher Dr. Amy Kind said of the findings, which were presented at London’s Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2017.

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“It is not only things like good schools, nutrition and exercise programmes (in wealthier areas), it is not having that daily stress that disadvantaged areas bring, like when you’re going off to school wondering, ‘Will I eat today?’, ‘Do I have to worry about my little brother or sister?’, or the stress of not having a job or not being able to put food on the table,” Dr. Dean Hartley, of the U.S.-based Alzheimer’s Association, added of the reasoning behind the results.

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