Marriage can protect against dementia

Marriage can protect against dementia

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Married people have a much lower risk of dementia

Living in a solid partnership has health benefits that range up to reduced mortality from serious illnesses. According to a recent study, the risk of developing dementia is significantly reduced in married couples. Compared to those who are married, people living as a single have a 42 percent higher risk of dementia for life, say the scientists led by Dr. Andrew Sommerlad from University College London (UCL).

The British scientists systematically examined the relationships between marital status and the risk of developing dementia in a meta-analysis and found a significantly reduced risk in married people. Marriage apparently has a very positive effect on maintaining cognitive abilities. So far, however, the researchers can only guess what the causes are. They published their results in the journal "Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry".

More than 800,000 subjects examined

From previous studies, it was already known that married people tend to lead a healthier lifestyle and lower early mortality rates than singles. For their current meta-analysis, the scientists have now used the data from 812,047 participants from 15 existing studies, in which the relationship between marital status and dementia - adapted to age and gender - was examined. The evaluation should show the relative dementia risks in widowed, divorced and lifelong singles compared to married people, explains Dr. Sommerlad and colleagues.

Singles and widowed people at increased risk

When evaluating the data, it became clear that the singles had a 42 percent higher risk of disease than the married couple and the widowed subjects showed a 20 percent higher risk. However, there was no increased risk in the divorced women. "Married people tend to have a healthier lifestyle and are more socially committed, which can explain why they are less likely to develop dementia," said Dr. Andrew Sommerlad in a UCL press release.

Possible causes of the increased risk of dementia

According to the researchers, the increased risk of singles could be due to generally poorer physical health in single people for life. In widowed people, the stress or grief for the deceased can impair nerve signaling and be the cause of the loss of cognitive abilities, the scientists further suspect. The fact that the divorced woman was not associated with the risk of dementia may be due to the smaller number of people with this status in the studies considered.

New approaches to dementia prevention

"Marriage can help both partners lead a healthier lifestyle, including exercising more, adopting a healthy diet, and smoking and drinking less, all of which are associated with a lower risk of dementia," the researchers report. Social contact also plays a role. "We hope that our findings can be used to support dementia prevention in unmarried people, since maintaining physical health and ensuring mental stimulation through social engagement can be beneficial for unmarried older people," concluded Dr . Summer shop. (fp)

Author and source information

Video: Mayo Clinic Minute: 3 tips to reduce your risk of Alzheimers disease (July 2022).


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