“People genetically prone to Alzheimer’s who went to college, worked in complex fields and stayed engaged intellectually held off the disease almost a decade longer than others, a study found.
Lifelong intellectual activities such as playing music or reading kept the mind fit as people aged and also delayed Alzheimer’s by years for those at risk of the disease who weren’t college educated or worked at challenging jobs, the researchers said in the study published today in JAMA Neurology.
“Keeping your brain mentally stimulated is a lifelong enterprise,” David Knopman, a study author and a professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said…
Currently there are no effective treatments for Alzheimer’s. A report by the Alzheimer’s Association projected that any treatment that could delay the onset of Alzheimer’s by five years would reduce the expected number of patients with the disease in the U.S. by about 43 percent by 2050.”
Study: Association of Lifetime Intellectual Enrichment With Cognitive Decline in the Older Population (JAMA Neurology). From the abstract:
- Importance: Intellectual lifestyle enrichment throughout life is increasingly viewed as a protective strategy against commonly observed cognitive decline in the older population.
- Objectives: To investigate the association of lifetime intellectual enrichment with baseline cognitive performance and rate of cognitive decline in an older population without dementia and to estimate the years of protection provided against cognitive impairment by these factors.
- Results:…For APOE4 carriers with high lifetime intellectual enrichment (75th percentile of education/occupation score and midlife to late-life cognitive activity), the onset of cognitive impairment was approximately 8.7 years later compared with low lifetime intellectual enrichment (25th percentile of education/occupation score and mid/late-life cognitive activity).
- Conclusions and Relevance: Higher education/occupation scores were associated with higher levels of cognition. Higher levels of mid/late-life cognitive activity were also associated with higher levels of cognition, but the slope of this association slightly increased over time. Lifetime intellectual enrichment might delay the onset of cognitive impairment and be used as a successful preventive intervention to reduce the impending dementia epidemic.