October 29, 2008

Alzheimer's Effects Linked to Career, Culture

A pair of new articles identify education, career, ethnicity and other socio-economic factors as having an influence on the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s patients who have higher education levels and mentally challenging careers have fewer symptoms than other patients with the same or less damage to their brains, according to a new study by Italian researchers.

The scientists offered two possible explanations for their results: either the brain gets stronger over time through education and career challenges, or, there are existing genetic factors that made it more likely for some people to end up in “mentally tough” careers, reports BBC News.

Other research shows that significant numbers of Hispanic Americans are developing Alzheimer’s earlier than African American and non-Hispanic White patients.

Hispanics are not more genetically predisposed to the disease than other ethnicities.

However, experts told The New York Times that stress from financial hardship, cultural dislocation, less education and high rates of health problems associated with diet or obesity may add to the problem.

Moreover, because of financial, cultural or language barriers, Hispanics may wait longer to acknowledge or treat symptoms.

Using data from the Census Bureau and other sources, the Alzheimer’s Association predicts the general population of Alzheimer’s patients will grow from 5 million to 16 million by 2050.

For the Latino population, that could mean growth from the current 200,000 to 1.3 million patients.

–Lauren Riggs/Newsdesk.org

Sources:

“Job choice affects Alzheimer’s”
BBC News, October 21, 2008

“More Alzheimer’s Risk for Hispanics, Studies Find”
The New York Times, October 21, 2008

3 thoughts on “Alzheimer's Effects Linked to Career, Culture

  1. What a great encouragement to create lifelong habits of learning and exercise. It seems that from the research I’ve ready, these two components can make a significant difference.

    I am concerned that America’s obesity epidemic is going to show a sharp increase in related to Alzheimer’s, heart disease and other diseases that can be linked back to obesity.

    All that said, my mother had Alzheimer’s. She wasn’t obese, and although she only had a formal highschool education, she was minister and spent her life studying the Bible. She didn’t contract Alzheimr’s until she was in her late 80s. Beats your 50s.

    ~Carol O’Dell
    Author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir
    available on Amazon

  2. Talking from someone who has seen Alzheimer’s patients from all intelligence, class, and cultural levels. I think we should be careful of labeling genetic or cultural as causing alzheimer’s. I think it is environmental. Toxins. Even scientists who are afraid to speak about it have found clusters of the disease in highly toxi areas. Of industrial areas of the past and the present.

  3. found the article interesting.worked in hospital with alzheimer patients.did find that we had fewer well educated people than lesser educated but did find that some of the younger ones also had other problems like dermititis.several had other physical medical problems.maybe the medical problems brought on the alzheimer sooner .