Foreign language skills, regular exercise and a low-fat diet have all been shown to enhance brain health. But having more faith in humanity can apparently help, too.
A study found that people with a high level of cynical distrust of others may be more likely to develop dementia.
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Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland tracked the mental health of 622 people with an average age of 71 over an eight-year period.
The participants were tested for dementia and had their cynicism levels measured through their response to statements such as, “I think most people would lie to get ahead” and “It is safer to trust nobody.”
The researchers found people with high levels of cynical distrust were three times more likely to develop dementia than those who were more trusting after controlling for other dementia risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking.
On the bright side, the study also found cynics lived just as long as optimists.
“Association between cynical distrust and incident dementia became evident when confounders were considered,” the study concluded.
“This novel finding suggests that both psychosocial and lifestyle-related risk factors may be modifiable targets for interventions. We acknowledge the need for larger replication studies.”
The study was published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.