New Scientific Discovery: Stress Ages Your Brain By 4 Years

RyanMcGuire | Pixabay

Any time you experience a stressful life event you get older by four years and the main causes are poverty, disadvantage and death.

This is the result of a series of four studies reported last 16th July 2017 at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC 2017) in London, the world’s largest gathering of researchers from around the world focused on Alzheimer’s and other dementias.


According to this new scientific research, stressful experiences such as loosing the job, divorce, death of a child, growing up with a parent who abused alcohol or drugs, financial problems or experiencing combat, can damage your brain worsening memory and thinking. And it seems that African Americans are the most affected, with the stressful events impacting differently in them compared to the white people.

The base:

The researchers, Megan Zuelsdorff, Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, along with her colleagues, focused on 1,320 adults: 82 African Americans and 1,232 non-Hispanic whites.

More precisely, they considered stressful experiences like, for example, educational difficulties, interpersonal conflicts, financial insecurity, legal/justice system issues, serious health events and psychosocial/physical trauma. Then submitted the study population with cognitive tests that measure memory and problem-solving abilities.

stress ages your brain by 4 years
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The results:

African Americans experienced over 60 percent more stressful events than non-Hispanic Whites during their lifetimes. These experiences were linked to poorer memory and thinking skills in older age…and each event was equal to about four years of cognitive ageing.

They also observed that living in an area with high infant mortality rates may contribute to dementia risk in late life, because these rates are associated with a variety of poor health outcomes.

And you are not in a better situation if you live in a disadvantaged neighbourhood, since it often creates barriers for accessing healthy foods, safe exercise options, toxin-free environments, and other factors that impact health. In fact, it’s already known that living is such conditions increases the risk of diabetes, cancer and early death.

Therefore, nothing is lost yet, because you can improve your condition and lower the risks of dementia, moving to a more advantaged setting, eating better and doing some physical activity. In other words: good diet, sport and ‘richer’ area (hopefully, one day, anyone on earth will be able to do so -Ed.).

Credits: AAIC


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