Living in wealthier suburbs 'cuts risk of dementia', study finds

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Living in a poorer area significantly increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s while life in the suburbs can help protect you from the disease, scientists have found.

Researchers believe air pollution, limited access to healthy food or space to exercise and low levels of education in deprived areas are factors which can damage brain health. 

Dr Dean Hartley, of the US-based Alzheimer’s Association, told the Daily Mail: “It is not only things like good schools, nutrition and exercise programmes [in wealthier areas].

“It is not having that daily stress when you’re going off to school wondering ‘will I eat today?’, ‘do I have to worry about my little brother and sister?’, or the stress of not having a job or not being able to put food on the table.”

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health found people from the wealthiest areas scored average or above-average in memory, verbal and learning tests.

People from poorer areas meanwhile scored around 25 per cent below average.

Dr Amy Kind, who led the study, said: “People living in neighbourhoods with the highest level of disadvantage had much worse cognitive performance in all aspects even after adjusting for age and education.”

Other results from the study found that those from the most disadvantaged areas had unusually high levels of protein which can also trigger Alzheimer’s later in life.

Dr James Pickett, head of research at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “There’s good UK data that supports the fact that diagnosis rates are really driven by socioeconomic factors.”

The study, presented at London‘s Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2017, studied the socioeconomic status of 1,479 people.


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