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Don’t Worry, Be Happy - It Can Prevent Alzheimer’s
Mental Well-Being May Help to Defuse a Ticking Health Timebomb

January 14th, 2004

Studies have projected that if a cure for Alzheimer’s isn’t found, the ageing of baby boomers will mean a 300% rise in cases of the degenerative brain disease; a possibility that threatens to strain the healthcare system and potentially bankrupt Medicare and Medicaid. With a cure still distant on the horizon, recent research suggests the best prevention might be just being happy.

Researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago have found that those who most often experience negative feelings - such as anxiety and depression - are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those who were least prone to being down. The study, conducted with a group of almost 800 elderly priests, nuns and monks, also showed that certain types of memory declined ten times more quickly among the most stress-prone seniors.

The researchers aren’t quite sure of the cause. It’s possible that stress produces an increase in the amount of certain hormones, such as Cortisol, which can damage the brain. Another possibility is that an underlying disease process, one that might involve the narrowing of blood vessels in the brain, causes emotions like depression at the same time it causes Alzheimer’s.

The jury will be out until more research is done. Until then, those worried they might catch Alzheimer’s should just relax and look on the bright side.

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