New links between social isolation and dementia risk

Credit: Unsplash+

In a study from McGill University, scientists found social lifestyle determinants, including social isolation, are associated with neurodegeneration risk factors.

Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) is a growing public health crisis, with an annual global cost of more than $1 trillion US.

There has been increasing evidence that social isolation is linked to an increased risk of ADRD, but the links between social lifestyle and other known ADRD risk factors are less well understood.

In the study, the researchers studied data on 502,506 UK Biobank participants and 30,097 people enrolled in the Canadian Longitudinal Study of Aging.

Both studies had questionnaires that included questions about loneliness, frequency of social interaction and social support.

They found a large array of associations between potentially modifiable ADRD risk factors and both loneliness and lack of social support.

People who smoked more, excessively drank alcohol, experienced sleep disturbances, and failed to frequently participate in light to vigorous physical activities—all known risk factors for ADRD—had greater odds of being lonely and lacking social support.

Physical and mental health factors previously linked to ADRD, such as heart disease, vision or hearing impairment, diabetes and neurotic and depressive behaviors, were also linked to both subjective and objective social isolation.

For instance, difficulty to hear with background noise corresponded to a 29.0% increase in the odds of feeling lonely and a 9.86% increase in the odds of lacking social support.

The odds of feeling lonely and lacking social support were also 3.7 and 1.4 times greater, respectively, as a function of a participant’s score for neuroticism.

The researchers conclude that social isolation, which can be modified more easily than genetic or underlying health risk factors, might be a promising target for preventive clinical action and policy interventions.

If you care about dementia, please read studies about Vitamin B9 deficiency linked to higher dementia risk, and flavonoid-rich foods could help prevent dementia.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies that cranberries could help boost memory, and Vitamin E may help prevent Parkinson’s disease

The study was conducted by Kimia Shafighi et al and published in PLOS ONE.

Copyright © 2023 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.