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Link between stress and dementia

26th June 2012

A study funded by The Alzheimer's Society is about to start with the aim of investigating if stress can cause dementia.

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The study will look at 120 people who have been diagnosed with "pre-dementia" and monitor the effect of stress on their condition.

The research, which will be carried out by a team from the University of Southampton, will build on a previous study which suggested stress in middle age could trigger dementia.

A Swedish study which followed 1,500 women over a 35-year period found the danger of developing Alzheimer's disease was 65% higher in the women who said they experienced stress than the ones who did not.

The new study will collect blood and saliva samples every six months for 18 months to monitor stress markers.

Professor Clive Holmes, from the University of Southampton, who will head the research, said: "All of us go through stressful events. We are looking to understand how these may become a risk factor for the development of Alzheimer's. Something such as bereavement or a traumatic experience - possibly even moving home - are also potential factors."

"This is the first stage in developing ways in which to intervene with psychological or drug-based treatments to fight the disease.

"We are looking at two aspects of stress relief - physical and psychological - and the body's response to that experience."

Dr Simon Ridley, of Alzheimer's Research UK, said: "Understanding the risk factors for Alzheimer's could provide one piece of the puzzle we need to take us closer to a treatment that could stop the disease in its tracks."

 

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