Stressful life events 'speed up brain's ageing by several years'

Stressful events can make people more likely to develop dementia when they are older

Stressful events can make people more likely to develop dementia when they are older

Getting divorced, losing a parent or being fired can age the brain by four years, a study suggests.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin looked at 1,320 adults with an average age of 58 to study how stressful life events, ranging from serious illness to imprisonment, affected the brain.

"We're starting to understand how early life stress and early life deprivation can increase your risk of a number of health outcomes in late life", she says.

The tests examined several areas including four memory scores - immediate memory; verbal learning and memory; visual learning and memory; and story recall.

"We presented research that actually tells us that African Americans-even into their 90's-are still one-and-a-half times more at risk than their counterparts and additionally, this may be attributable to living in disadvantaged neighborhoods or increased stressful life experiences", Maria Carrillo, Ph.D., chief science officer at the Alzheimer's Association (ALZ) tells FOX Business.

Stressful life experiences included incidents such as losinga job, the death of a child, divorce or growing up with a parent who abused alcohol or drugs. According to NPR, four studies presented at an global conference in London Sunday all presented evidence linking poverty, disadvantage, and stressful life events to cognitive issues among aging African Americans.

Dr Doug Brown, the director of research at the Alzheimer's Society, said: "We know that prolonged stress can have an impact on our health, so it's no surprise that this study indicates stressful life events may also affect our memory and thinking abilities later in life".

"However, the findings do indicate that more should be done to support people from disadvantaged communities that are more likely to experience stressful life events".

Researchers from Wisconsin University in the United States also found that African American experienced 60 per cent more stressful events than white people during their lifetimes. "As we improve our understanding of risk factors for dementia, it is increasingly important to establish the role that stress and stressful life events play".

Other research has suggested there are plausible links between stress and chronic inflammation, which in turn may accelerate the development of dementia.

Recommended News

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.