Stressful life experiences can ‘age brain by four years’, says study

Death of a child, getting divorced and losing a job are included on the list

According to a report in the Independent newspaper, experts from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in America found 27 stressful events that could be links to poorer cognitive function in later life. Experiencing just one major stressful event early in life can have an impact on later brain health, the study found.

Researchers examined data from 1,320 people who underwent a series of neurological tests examining several areas, including memory. A total of 1,232 participants were white and 82 were African American. All had reported stressful experiences over their lifetime. The average age of participants was 58.

The study found that African Americans experienced over 60 per cent more stressful events than white people over their lifetimes. The study has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal but it was presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in London.

The study did not look at the risk of dementia, however stressful experiences are known to impact brain function, which can itself lead to dementia in later life. Other research has suggested plausible links between stress and chronic inflammation, which could accelerate the development of dementia.

Read the whole report here: