Middle Age Stress an Alzheimer’s Risk

Here’s a cautionary tale for women coping with lots of daily stress: Researchers suggest that a stressful middle-age is risk factor for developing the devastating, memory-sapping Alzheimer’s disease later in life.

While Swedish researchers, who reported their findings recently in the journal BMJ Open, stressed that there study doesn’t mean a stressful job or chaotic family life means you’ll develop Alzheimer’s as you age; they did find chronic stress, which can tax our bodies via the hormones, may reduce the efficiency of some people’s brain circuitry.

The researchers focused their analysis on a large group of women who ranged in age from their 30s to 50s over a period of several years. They periodically asked them about life stressors ranging from demanding jobs to divorce and sick parents. The researchers found for every major life stressor the women in their study had, their risk of developing Alzheimer’s climbed by a remarkable 17 percent.

While the study did not look at the correlation of stress and other known Alzheimer’s risk factors –such as obesity and heart disease– researchers suggested their findings are yet another reason to seek strategies for minimizing stress in our daily lives.