A recent epidemiological study of 800 Swedish women has found that mid-life stress may increase women’s risk of developing dementia. Women who had to cope with stressful events, such as divorce or bereavement, were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease decades later. Higher stress was associated higher dementia risk.
It is possible that stress hormones, including cortisol, may be a causal factor behind this statistical link. Stress hormones, which can remain at high levels many years after experiencing a stressful event, cause a number of changes in the body; affecting long-term blood pressure and blood sugar control.
More research is required. It would be interesting to determine whether the same association between stress and dementia may also apply for men. The authors suggest
tentatively that future studies should investigate whether stress management and behaviour therapy might help offset the incidence of dementia.
Read more: BBC News: Mid-life stress ‘precedes dementia’.
Mid-life stress ‘precedes dementia’. London: BBC Health News, October 1st 2013.
Midlife stress may raise women’s dementia risk. London: NHS Choices; Behind the Headlines, October 1st 2013.
This relates to:
Johansson, L. Guo, X. [and] Hällström, T. [et al] (2013). Common psychosocial stressors in middle-aged women related to longstanding distress and increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease: a 38-year longitudinal population study. BMJ Open, September 30th 2013; 3: e003142.