A separate study found that enduring stressful events such as unemployment, divorce, or losing a child added around a year and a half to brain aging in white participants.
“These studies were done with U.S. data, but they add weight to the global body of evidence around disadvantage and dementia risk, which is an issue governments around the world grapple with, and one that requires coordinated action”, said Alzheimer’s Association chief scientist Maria Carrillo.
Efforts to cushion the blow of bereavement, abuse or other traumatic events could help to protect the brain, experts speculated.
Wisconsin University’s school of medicine and public health led a team of experts in the USA and found that even one major stressful event earlier in life may impact brain health later on. The group who experienced problems with their hearing were more likely to score significantly lower on cognitive tests and were roughly three times as likely to be assessed as having mild cognitive impairment. Researchers say the next key challenge is to roll the programme to the 28,000 care homes in the United Kingdom to benefit the lives of the 300,000 people with dementia living in these facilities.
But she said the brain was an “incredibly intricate organ” to research.
“I think this is important because it contributes more information to a growing body of evidence that early life matters to brain health, and that maybe early life conditions partially explain the racial disparities we see in dementia risk”, Gilsanz said. This is the first study to look at racial disparity in the risk of incident dementia among this older population. The group also analyzed the neighborhood data against a much smaller subset of people who had been tested for biomarkers – proteins found in cerebrospinal fluid linked to Alzheimer’s.
“This linkage between neighborhood disadvantage and Alzheimer’s has never been explored until our work”, said Amy J. Kind, a physician and researcher at the University of Wisconsin.
The research – done by the University of Wisconsin – looked at 1,300 adults with an average age of 58 to see how their brains had been affected by different stressful things.
“Studying the role of stress is complex”. The others were non-Hispanic whites.
“We’re trying to get at really, potentially disruptive events”, Zuelsdorff said in an interview.
Researchers from Wisconsin University in the U.S. also found that African American experienced 60 per cent more stressful events than white people during their lifetimes.