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Anxious Women At Greater Risk Of Alzheimer's

Believe it or not, a new study that has been published in the Journal of Neurology has shown how women who are anxious or jealous during their thirties and forties could lead to Alzheimer’s disease in later life. Alzheimer’s disease, is a common disease throughout the United States, with five million cases affected citizens each year, 3.2 million of those cases being women. Web MD states: “Being introverted or extroverted alone didn’t seem to affect dementia risk, but women who were both easily distressed and withdrawn (introverted) had the highest risk of Alzheimer’s among all women analyzed.”

This latest study was led by Lena Johansson, Ph.D. from the Gothenburg University in Sweden. In the past studies involving this particular neurological disorder revolve around genetics, heart problems, and head trauma that might result in Alzheimer’s, but this new research shows that the risk for this disease might actually be higher in women who stress easily.

Revisiting The Newest Study Group

Dr. Johannsson and the rest of her research team performed their study on eight hundred different women with an average age of forty six years old. Following the initial study period, patients were monitored throughout thirty-eight years for follow up and completed personality tests to measure neuroticism, anxiety levels, jealous feelings, and moodiness. Medical News Today reports: “The women were also asked to disclose whether they had experienced periods of stress – which the team defined as feelings of fear, nervousness, anxiety, sleep problems, tension or irritability – associated with family, work or health that lasted for 1 month or more.”

These stressful feelings were measured on a scale ranging from zero to five, with five being the most constant level of stress over a five year period. During the duration of the research project nineteen percent of the patients developed cases of dementia, and the results were surprising. Those women who scored the highest numbers on their neuroticism testing were twice as likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s as participants with lower numbers in their tests.

Other Findings Relating To The Study

Throughout the study, not only was it found that women who demonstrated more anxious behavior in their middle years were more likely to get Alzheimer’s later in life, but being antisocial also had a significant place in the data that was collected. This combination made the chance of developing this disease 2.5 times more likely over the period of 38 years following middle age. Everyday Health explains: “Almost two thirds of people with Alzheimer’s disease are women. Symptoms of the disease include memory loss, problems with words, and a loss of good judgment skills.”

The study being conducted began in 1068 and concluded with one hundred and four participants developing the disease. Dr. Peter Whitehouse, the professor of neurology at the Case Western Reserve University, felt that while many studies can be a little biased when it comes time to read the data, this particular case was handled with extreme care, and the results make sense. The case was originally researched as a result of many of Dr. Johansson’s patients having memory loss along with their anxiety and behavioral issues.

How This Study Could Be Successful in The Future

This study focused only on women during a time period when it was highly rare for any studied to be performed on women, let alone on only women without the presence of men in the experiment. Even with this being said, Dr. Johansson has made it clear that she finds that these findings will also be seen in male subjects, and while females were the only ones participating in this particular study, the correlation between anxiety, anti-social behavior and the possible development of Alzheimer’s is a strong one no matter the gender. In the future, possible changes that could be made to the design of this study would be the allowance of male participants, and testing adults in other stages of life as well, such as those just evolving from teen years into their adult lives. The effects of stress on a younger generation may have similar results, or it could lead to no new information on the subject, leaving scientists to continue wondering about how to solve this new possible cause for Alzheimer’s disease.

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