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.
“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