Stressful Experiences can Age Brain by Years

Stressful Experiences can Age Brain by Years

Stressful Experiences can Age Brain by Years

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

Experts led by a team from Wisconsin University's school of medicine and public health in the United States found that even one major stressful event early in life may have an impact on later brain health. Or the impact could be the result of cascading effects, such as when a powerfully disruptive event affects a person's early schooling and limits achievement later on.

But she said the brain was an "incredibly intricate organ" to research. "It is the social environment that's contributing to disparities". But experts believe that a healthy lifestyle and a healthy diet can help mitigate this risk, even for those people going through stressful events. African Americans are twice as likely to develop dementia as white Americans, which researchers previously attributed to genetics and conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, reports the Washington Post.

Stress is linked to social disadvantage and members of minority groups tend to suffer disproportionately from these disadvantages.

During the period that the research focused on ‒ between 1964 and 1973 ‒ the infant mortality rate of black people was almost twice as high as that of whites.

Participants from the poorest areas scored around 25 per cent below average, even after age and education were accounted for. "Our findings suggest that differences in early life conditions may contribute to racial inequalities in dementia rate, and they point to growing evidence that early life conditions contribute to dementia risk in late life". "We should really think about brain health as a lifelong concern".

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Researchers examined data of 1,320 people who reported stressful experiences over their lifetime and underwent tests in areas such as thinking and memory.

A series of studies presented at the 2017 Alzheimer's Association International Conference (AAIC 2017) has highlighted racial inequities in the risk of dementia.

"This linkage between neighborhood disadvantage and Alzheimer's has never been explored until our work", Kind said. Researchers have found that African Americans experience 60 percent more stressful events compared with white people during their lifetimes.

"Studying the role of stress is complex". Although the questionnaire also asked respondents to rank the impact of those disruptive events, Zuelsdorff's study focused only on the number of such events themselves.

New studies looking at how social conditions may affect risk of dementia found that living in stressful circumstances hits one group hardest: African Americans.

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