[Paleopsych] RxPG: Complex work" protects against dementia

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Mon Oct 10 01:08:52 UTC 2005

"Complex work" protects against dementia

[My mistake, apparently the series began to be copyrighted in 2004. This is 
from the bottom:
[Chief Medical Editors: Dr Sanjukta Acharya and Dr Ankush Vidyarthi
[Copyright 2004 by rxpgnews.com.

Sep 9, 2005    Dementia Channel

"Occupations with high mental demands may provide a form of 'mental exercise' 
that supports brain function into older adulthood"

By University of South Florida School of Aging Studies, Publishing in the 
September issue of the Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 
University of South Florida School of Aging Studies researcher Ross Andel and 
James Mortimer, professor, USF College of Public Health, examined the 
relationship between complexity of main lifetime occupation and risk for 
Alzheimer's disease and dementia in general. He and co-researchers discovered 
that people engaging in "complex work" had a reduced risk of dementia and 
Alzheimer's disease.

"Occupations with high mental demands may provide a form of 'mental exercise' 
that supports brain function into older adulthood," said Andel.

Recent research has focused on lifestyle issues, such as smoking, drinking, 
exercise and leisure activities and the roles they may play in the risk for 
dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Occupation as an intellectual stimulus, said 
Andel, is yet another factor that needs consideration, particularly given the 
amount of time people spend at work. While occupational classification has been 
a previously studied variable, and occupations with low social status have been 
found to be a risk factor for dementia and Alzheimer's disease, occupational 
complexity as a source of intellectual stimulation has not been looked at 

Andel and his co-researchers studied risk of dementia in cases and controls and 
in complete twin pairs using data from a Swedish Twin Registry, through which 
sets of twins were followed for more than 40 years and whose main occupations 
were recently recorded. Within the twin pairs, one twin was diagnosed with 
dementia and the co-twin was dementia-free. The sample included 10,079 members 
of a subset of the Swedish Twin Registry called the Study of Dementia in 
Swedish Twins (HARMONY), a study led by Margaret Gatz from the University of 
Southern California.

The authors found that those who performed complex work with data or people had 
lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

"Those performing complex work with people, such as speaking to, instructing or 
negotiating with people, appeared particularly protected in this sample," Andel 

Results were adjusted for gender, level of education and, in case-control 
analyses, for age.

"Our results suggest that intellectually demanding activity at work may 
facilitate brain health in old age," concluded Andel. "However, further 
research is needed to understand why complex work appears to offer a buffer 
against dementia and whether occupational complexity is protective independent 
of occupational status."

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