The higher the level of studies, the lower the risk of dementia

Researchers from Finland and the United Kingdom have established that those who extend their academic studies present an minor risk to suffer dementia in the future. The results, about which an article has been published in the journal Brain , have been obtained thanks to collaboration ECLIPSE (Clinicopathological epidemiological studies in Europe), supported in part by a grant Marie Curie for beneficiaries from third countries.

Several previous studies had shown that more time should be devoted to academic studies, a fact related to a higher socioeconomic status and style of study. healthier life, it also reduces the risk of suffering from dementia. However, it had not been fully clarified whether said benefit it is because education protects the brain against pathologies related to dementia or that it provides people with the mental reserves necessary to cope with the neurological changes typical of the development of dementia.

To resolve this and other issues of remarkable importance, the ECLIPSE researchers analyzed data from a cohort (set of individuals from one population) of 872 people participating in three large-scale studies on aging and dementia. One of them belonged to a European program of brain donation. The studies were the Cohort Study of more than 75 years of the City of Cambridge and the Study on Aging and cognitive function of the Medical Research Council of the United Kingdom and the Vantaa 85+ study of Finland.



In all the studies, participants were interviewed at regular intervals between one and seven years after conducting baseline studies between 1985 and 1993. The questionnaires were designed to have an influence on the presence of signs of dementia, although the participants also answered questions about socioeconomic factors such as education.

In all the studies, brain tissue samples were evaluated in search of neuropathologies, analyzes performed without knowing the clinical status of the patient in relation to dementia. The researchers investigated the presence of plaques, aggregations and injuries associated with dementia and classified them according to their severity. These data were then compared with those extracted from the questionnaires.

The incidence of cerebral pathologies was similar in all groups. The results indicated that obtaining a higher level of education does not have a physical protective effect against these pathologies, but rather helps cope with degenerative changes in the brain. Individuals who had enjoyed greater education during youth had a lower risk of developing clinical dementia at older ages.



"Previous research has shown that there is no direct relationship between the diagnosis of dementia in life and the changes observed directly in the brain after death," explained Dr. Hannah Keage of the University of Cambridge (United Kingdom). "The brain pathology of one person can be enormous while that of another person and both suffer dementia." Our study shows that education during youth can allow certain people to cope with a large number of changes in their brain without symptoms of dementia. . "

The findings highlight the important contribution of education to public health, especially in view of the European population aging.

"It is known that education is good for health and equality," said Professor Carol Brayne of the University of Cambridge, director of the research.

"This study provides strong arguments in favor of investing in factors related to youth that should influence society and throughout life, the relevance of these statements for political decisions regarding the allocation of resources for health and education. It's essential."

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University of Cambridge

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