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‘people in mentally stimulating jobs have lower risk of dementia’

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Amarachi Okeh

A new study has indicated that the risk of developing dementia at old age is lower in people who work more cognitively stimulating jobs than those in non-cognitively stimulating jobs.

According to the study conducted by a group of European researchers, a possible mechanism for this association is the finding that cognitive stimulation is associated with lower levels of plasma proteins that might inhibit axonogenesis and synaptogenesis and increase dementia risk in old age.

The study which was published in BMJ  journal was carried out on a large cohort observation of 107,896 participants.

According to medicalnewstoday.com, “To determine whether a participant’s job was cognitively stimulating, the researchers looked at the occupation’s levels of demand and control.

“The researchers deemed jobs that were psychologically demanding and offered the worker significant control to be cognitively stimulating. 

“In contrast, they classified ‘passive’ jobs that had low demand and offered no control as not cognitively stimulating.

“However, the team characterised cognitively demanding jobs that gave the individual no control as stressful work or job strain, which is a possible risk factor for dementia.

“The researchers also looked at the relationship between cognitive stimulation and specific proteins, as well as the relationship between these proteins and the risk of dementia.

“These investigations involved 2,261 and 13,656 participants, respectively, and the researchers hoped that the findings would provide some clues as to a biological mechanism that could explain any associations they identified.

The authors of the research concluded that the “multicohort study of more than 100,000 participants suggests that people with cognitively stimulating jobs have a lower risk of dementia in old age than those with non-stimulating jobs.”

According to the World Health Organisation, dementia is a syndrome – usually of a chronic or progressive nature – in which there is deterioration in cognitive function (i.e., the ability to process thought) beyond what might be expected from normal ageing.

“It affects memory, thinking, orientation, comprehension, calculation, learning capacity, language, and judgement. Consciousness is not affected,” WHO said.

The global health agency added that while about 50 million people are living with dementia, it is estimated that nearly 10 million cases are recorded yearly.

In addition, WHO listed the risk factors of developing dementia as smoking, obesity, unhealthy diet, social isolation, cognitive inactivity, hypertension, diabetes.

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