News ID: 170444
Published: 0207 GMT October 17, 2016

Stress can pose greater risk of dementia

Stress can pose greater risk of dementia

People who are easily stressed could be more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, a study warned.

Scientists found high levels of the stress hormone cortisol could trigger the deadly brain disease, and hope their discovery will help them design drugs to combat the illness, wrote.

The team from Edith Cowan University in Perth, Australia, measured the cortisol levels and memory function of 416 healthy adults over six years.

They also scanned their brains to measure their levels of amyloid beta — a protein strongly associated with the development of Alzheimer’s.

Lead researcher Professor Simon Laws said that the study showed that among adults with high levels of amyloid beta in their brain, those with higher cortisol levels experienced a greater rate of memory decline than those with low levels of cortisol.

He said: “We are looking for factors that change in the blood as we progress through to development of Alzheimer’s disease.

“We were able to scan the brains of individuals to see how much amyloid beta they had in the brain — the major risk for developing Alzheimer’s.

“We found those with high cortisol levels and high amyloid declined in terms of their memory performance at a much faster rate than those that had high amyloid, but low cortisol. So the cortisol levels in their blood were contributing to a faster rate of memory loss.”

Laws said the study’s findings provided support for clinical trials of drugs that modulate cortisol levels to see if they may be useful in delaying cognitive decline in people with preclinical Alzheimer’s.

Dr. Rosa Sancho, of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Understanding the link between amyloid and cortisol levels may aid in predicting who is at risk of developing dementia, which we know to be a complex mix of age, genetics and environment.

“If you are feeling stressed or concerned about your health in general, we would recommend you talk this through with your GP.”

Laws added: “Stress impacts our lives and health in many ways, so the reduction of stress is going to have health benefits.”

In the UK, one person is diagnosed with dementia — caused by diseases such as Alzheimer’s — every three minutes, with the condition costing the economy €23billion every year.

With 850,000 sufferers, it is the only cause of death that is still on the rise.

The study was conducted in collaboration with the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health and Yale University.

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