Stress Linked to Dementia in Women

Swedish study assesses 800 subjects over almost 40 years
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 1, 2013 7:00 AM CDT
Midlife Stress Boosts Women's Dementia Risk
Dementia may be linked to midlife stress.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – In news that is sort of, well, stressful, a study of 800 Swedish women has found that women who suffer from midlife stress may have a higher risk of dementia. Divorce, bereavement, job loss, and mental illness in the family were among the 18 stressors assessed; the study found that such factors led to a 21% higher risk of Alzheimer's and a 15% higher risk of any kind of dementia, LiveScience reports. Researchers found that the higher the number of stressors the women experienced, the greater their dementia risk, the BBC notes.

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The study investigated the women's experiences between 1968 and 2005. Subjects went through a variety of tests beginning in their late 30s, mid-40s, or 50s, and testing continued regularly. Some 20%, or 153, of the subjects developed dementia over the course of the study; 104 of them had Alzheimer's. The increased risk may be linked to stress hormones, which can affect the brain and stick around for years. (Read more stress stories.)

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