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More educated people 'able to withstand Alzheimer's for longer'

More educated people 'able to withstand Alzheimer's for longer'
12th November 2008

People who have higher levels of education may be able to delay some effects of Alzheimer's disease, scientists have suggested.

Alzheimer's patients with higher education levels scored higher scores in cognitive tests than other patients, even though patients of varying education levels who do not have the disease scored similar results in the tests, according to the study published in the Archives of Neurology.

Researchers said the results appear to lend support to the cognitive reserve hypothesis - the idea that people with greater cognitive reserves are able to keep functioning for longer despite underlying damage to the brain.

"Presumably, as the Alzheimer disease pathological burden increases, a greater proportion of highly educated participants reaches the threshold for dementia and the initial advantage provided by cognitive reserve decreases," suggested the study authors.

A separate US report recently found that individuals can dramatically reduce their risk of developing Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease by making lifestyle changes such as altering their diets and taking more exercise.

Environmental factors are key drivers behind both conditions, according to the Environmental Threats to Healthy Ageing report published jointly by Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Science and Environmental Health Network.

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