Having a stressful job could stave off dementia, according to new analysis

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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Work stress isn’t as bad for our brains as we’ve been led to believe. 

According to a new analysis, a mentally challenging job could slash your chances of developing dementia. 

The harder your brain works at your job, the less likely you may be to have memory and thinking problems in later life, the study suggests.

The findings counter the claims of some who blame much of America’s health crises to over-working – including those in support of the four-day workweek initiative, launched by Senator Bernie Sanders.

But the new research suggest that jobs which are mentally stimulating but avoid repetition – such as teaching, working in public relations or being a computer programmer – are beneficial.

Meanwhile road workers and cleaners might be at a higher risk.

Researchers looked at 7,000 people and 305 occupations in Norway and found teaching had the highest cognitive demands. They found the harder your brain works at your job, the less likely you may be to have memory and thinking problems later in life

As part of the study, a team from Oslo University Hospital in Norway analysed 7,000 people across 305 different occupations.

They measured the amount of cognitive stimulation that participants experienced while at work, and divided them into four groups based on their results.

They also measured the degree of routine manual tasks carried out, for example repetitive motions during factory work, and the degree of repetitive cognitive tasks such as bookkeeping and filing.

Then, they recorded the degree of non-repetitive analytical tasks such as engaging in creative thinking, the degree of non-routine interpersonal tasks such as coaching, and the degree of non-repetitive cognitive tasks involved in careers such as public relations and computer programming.

After the age of 70, participants completed memory and thinking tests to assess whether they had mild cognitive impairment.

Senator Bernie Sanders believes it is long past time the United States moves away from a 40-hour workweek and establishes a 32-hour standard workweek without reducing workers' pay.

Senator Bernie Sanders believes it is long past time the United States moves away from a 40-hour workweek and establishes a 32-hour standard workweek without reducing workers’ pay.

Analysis revealed that of those who had jobs with the lowest cognitive demands, 42 per cent were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment.

Of those who had jobs with the highest cognitive demands, 27 per cent were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment.

Overall, the group with the lowest cognitive demands at work had a 66 per cent higher risk of mild cognitive impairment compared to the group with the highest cognitive demands.

Author Trine Edwin said: ‘We examined the demands of various jobs and found that cognitive stimulation at work during different stages in life — during your 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s — was linked to a reduced risk of mild cognitive impairment after the age of 70.

‘Our findings highlight the value of having a job that requires more complex thinking as a way to possibly maintain memory and thinking in old age.’

The findings were published in the journal Neurology.

WHAT IS DEMENTIA?

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of progressive neurological disorders, that is, conditions affecting the brain.

There are many different types of dementia, of which Alzheimer’s disease is the most common.

Some people may have a combination of types of dementia.

Regardless of which type is diagnosed, each person will experience their dementia in their own unique way.

Dementia is a global concern but it is most often seen in wealthier countries, where people are likely to live into very old age.

HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE AFFECTED?

The Alzheimer’s Society reports there are more than 900,000 people living with dementia in the UK today, of which about two out of three have Alzheimer’s disease.

The number of people in the UK with dementia is projected to rise to 1.6 million people by 2040. 

In the US, it’s estimated there are 5.5 million Alzheimer’s sufferers. A similar percentage rise is expected in the coming years.

As a person’s age increases, so does the risk of them developing dementia.

Rates of diagnosis are improving but many people with dementia are thought to still be undiagnosed.

IS THERE A CURE?

Currently there is no cure for dementia.

But new drugs can slow down its progression and the earlier it is spotted the more effective treatments are.

Source: Dementia UK 

Bernie Sanders

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