More Education Means A Lesser Chance of Getting Alzheimer's, Dementia

  • Who'd have thought it? Parents now have new ammunition to help them convince kids to further their educations. 


    According to a Finnish study, published in the October 2, 2007 issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, "people who don't finish high school are at a higher risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's disease compared to people with more education, regardless of lifestyle choices and characteristics such as income, occupation, physical activity and smoking."


    That's right, kids. If you want to avoid Alzheimer's load up that backpack and get to school, pronto!

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    Though lifestyle choices don't directly effect the probability of who does or does not get Alzheimer's and dementia, they do work into the equation. The study says, "Generally speaking, people with low education levels seem to lead unhealthier lifestyles..."


    But that's not the whole story. The study also states, "It may be that highly educated people have a greater cognitive reserve, which is the brain's ability to maintain function in spite of damage, thus making it easier to postpone the negative effects of dementia."


    I'm wondering, in my own unscientific way, if this is just another way of saying, "Build that brain muscle."


    Could it be that people with more education are using their brains to learn new things on a continuing basis, whether because of economic indicators or just inclination to enjoy learning? Whatever the reason, this study shows us that education is a good thing for reasons other than getting a better job.


    Perhaps the extra brain exercise, when we are young, lasts; or perhaps educated people just continue the habit of brain exercise. Whatever the reason, it's good to give young people another example of why staying in school is good for you.


    Yes, they will point to the brilliant scientist they read about who has Alzheimer's and ask for your explanation on that. No amount of education, health, or great genes guaranteed that we won't get dementia. But, since education is generally good for us, why not use this extra incentive to work our brains? And, if it helps our kids - would they listen to something about Alzheimer's? I'm not so sure. But if they would, that would be a good thing. The least we can do is set an example, ourselves, and read, learn and grow mentally. We may actually be helping to prevent Alzheimer's disease in the process.


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Published On: October 01, 2007