Education could help the brain cope with dementia
Previous research has shown that the longer someone spends in education, the lower their dementia risk. This new research suggests that education enables the brain to cope with the changes caused by dementia, alleviating its effects. The study is published today in the journal Brain.
Despite the previous association between more education and lower dementia risk, research has not shown whether education protects the brain against dementia, as education is often associated with a healthier lifestyle and other confounding factors.
The new study shows education doesn’t protect the brain, but that it may enable some people to cope with a lot of changes in their brain before showing dementia symptoms.
Rebecca Wood, Chief Executive of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, said:
“During dementia, proteins build up in the brain and nerve cells become damaged. This research suggests that education is not able to stop the damage but enables the brain to cope better and alleviate its impact.
“There is increasing evidence that our environments can affect dementia risk. For example, we know that eating a healthy diet and taking regular exercise, especially in mid-life, could help lower dementia risk.
“With more research we may be able to find ways of preventing dementia. 820,000 people in the UK have dementia today, a number forecast to rise as our population ages, so we must invest now.”
The study was funded by the BUPA Foundation, the European Union and the Medical Research Council and included researchers from the Universities of Cambridge, Newcastle, Sheffield and Kuopio, Finland.