Certain types of jobs can lower risk of developing dementia in old age, new study finds

By Staff 6 Min Read

A new study has found that mentally challenging jobs contribute to a 66% lower risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which can lower the likeliness of developing dementia

A new study determined that people working in mentally stimulating occupations are less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment and dementia in the later years of their lives.

The review was published in the journal, Neurology, and involved researchers from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, the University of Pennsylvania, and Columbia University. According to researchers, the kind of jobs done by individuals in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s can determine their brain health and functionality in retirement.

People in cognitively stimulating environments like teachers, university lecturers, and civil services are the ones who are 66% less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

READ MORE:Sleep problems can trigger series of mental health issues leading to serious disorders, study finds

Trine Holt Edwin from Oslo University Hospital shared his findings with the online news site, i. He said: “Our research shows that it is never too late, or a waste of time, to start learning something new. All cognitively demanding activities later in life contribute to strengthening one’s cognitive reserve.”

The researchers were able to evaluate the outcome by comparing the cognitive demands between different age groups – one from 30-65 years and the other clinically diagnosed dementia patients above 70 years.

The study spanned over 40 years and analysed individual’s careers while accounting for age, sex, education, income, baseline hypertension, obesity, diabetes, psychiatric impairment, hearing impairment, loneliness, smoking status, and physical inactivity.

However, the researchers confirmed that the findings are rooted in the “association” between the two factors, as they adjusted the data to accommodate variables such as income, lifestyle, age, gender, and education.

Hence, the published report emphasised that individuals engaged in cognitively stimulating occupations during midlife exhibited a lower risk of MCI and dementia beyond the age of 70.

Brain professor David Raichlen, who specialises in human and evolutionary biology at the University of Southern California, previously warned that people who sit for many hours a day, whether due to their lifestyle or job, are at a higher risk of dementia.

“If you sit for 10 hours a day compared to nine hours a day, it’s about a 10% increased risk of dementia. If you sit for 12 hours a day, it’s about a 60% increased risk of dementia. It’s a problem that we have to deal with.” he told the Diary of a CEO podcast in February.

“Over the last few decades we’ve realised that you can generate new neurons, especially in key areas of the brain like the hippocampus – which is associated with memory. That growth of new neurons may be the key to preventing or staving off these neurodegenerative diseases that have this big impact on the ageing brain,” he added.

He went on to say that the optimal amount of physical activity is 150 minutes per week, but added that only 25% of adults in the US meet those guidelines, while older adults only do two to four minutes of physical activity per day. Meanwhile, a study from September 2023 in JAMA found that if you’re not moving much for 10 hours or more a day, you might have a bigger chance of getting dementia later on.

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