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Moody women face higher Alzheimer's risk

04 October 2014, 10:18

Abuja - Middle-aged women with a neurotic personality style and prolonged stress may have a heightened risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, new research suggests.

Tracking 800 women over nearly four decades, Swedish scientists found that those who were most anxious, jealous and moody – which they defined as neurotic – and experienced long-standing stress had double the risk of developing Alzheimer's compared to women scoring lowest in these traits.

"No other study has shown that [one style of] midlife personality increased the risk of Alzheimer's disease over a period of nearly 40 years," said study author Lena Johansson, a researcher at University of Gothenburg.

Outside experts cautioned, however, that the study results don't prove that neuroticism triggers Alzheimer's, but they do suggest an association between the two.

The study is published online in the journal Neurology.

Neuroticism in middle-aged women

The most common type of dementia, Alzheimer's disease causes profound memory loss and impairments in language, focus, judgment and visual perception, according to the Alzheimer's Association. About 5.2 million Americans have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, which is progressive, incurable and ultimately fatal.

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Johansson said she believes the results would also be true for men. But study data – pulled from research that began in the 1960s – happened to include only women in an era when few medical studies focused on females.

In the new study, participants with an average age of 46 were tracked for 38 years and given memory tests and personality tests measuring their levels of neuroticism and extraversion (defined as being outgoing) and introversion (defined as reserved or shy).

Study authors defined neuroticism as being easily distressed and exhibiting personality traits such as anxiety, jealousy or moodiness. People with this personality style are more likely, they said, to express guilt, anger, envy, worry and depression.

- Health24
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