A new research suggests that middle-aged women with worrying, jealous, or moody nature might possess a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in the later phase of their life.
“Most Alzheimer’s research has been devoted to factors such as education, heart and blood risk factors, head trauma, family history and genetics,” said study author, Lena Johannsson from The University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
“Personality may influence the individual’s risk for dementia through its effect on behavior, lifestyle or reactions to stress.”
A study pursued on 800 women for almost 40 years found that personalities, who were more inclined toward the neuroticism and stress, in personality tests, run a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Dementia referred as ‘the key health challenge of this generation’ by Prime Minister David Cameron affects more than 800,000 Britons and is expected to reach an abysmal level of 44million by 2050, worldwide.
The women involved in the study, which appeared Wednesday in the American Academy of Neurology’s journal, Neurology were mostly in their late 30s, 40s and early 50s.
They were given a battery of personality tests to check their level of neuroticism and extraversion or introversion to determine certain traits and tendencies, along with memory tests.
The assessment against a “neuroticism scale revealed that 153 women accounting to 19% developed dementia. The highest scorers possessed twofold the risk of developing dementia in comparison with those who scored the lowest.
Neuroticism is related to those who get disturbed easily and possess personality traits like anxiety, guilt, possessiveness, easily upset, shy and introvert or moodiness.
They were also checked with any issues, any stress caused at personal or professional level or due to health which was repeated at an interval of five years.
The researchers didn’t hint any application of the same on men as they were not involved in the study.
According to the head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK , Dr Simon Ridley: “Observational studies like this can be important for picking out health trends, but this type of research is not able to tell us about cause and effect.
“This long-term study adds to existing evidence linking stress to an increased risk of dementia, but more research is needed to understand the underlying reasons behind this link, as well as the impact of some of the personality traits highlighted here,” said Ridley focusing on the neccesity of further research.
Dr Clare Walton, of the Alzheimer’s Society commented, ‘We all have moments when we feel stressed or worried, but stressed women reading this shouldn’t take this research to mean they’re necessarily at higher risk of dementia.
‘This research doesn’t show that neuroticism in women alone could increase risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, but what it does suggest is that personality traits like neuroticism are linked to the experience of long term stress.
‘While we can’t control all the sources of everyday stress, we can develop coping strategies to deal with them and we’re funding research to help explore how this could help with reducing risk of dementia.’
The study was supported by the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation, Swedish Brain Power, Swedish Medical Research Council, the Alzheimer’s AssociationSöderström – Königska Nursing Home Foundation, Professor Bror Gadelius Memorial Foundation the Dementia Foundation, Fredrik and Ingrid Thurings Foundation, the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research, the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, Gamla Tjänarinnor Foundation, Shopkeeper Hjalmar Svensson’s Research Foundation, and the University of Gothenburg.