A recently made public study has discovered that a person with a strong continuous marriage, particularly throughout the middle decades of life, ends up at a lower risk of developing dementia, explained a report from Neuroscience News.
Researchers, most of which were from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, looked over the marital status of groups of adults between the ages of 44 through 68, and whether these adults have developed dementia after the age of 70. The new study made use of data from well over 150,000 Norwegians who gave their consent to have their health data be utilized for research. Results seemed to show that adults who stayed married throughout those years of life sported the lowest occurrence of dementia.
Seemingly agreeing with these results, the data also highlighted that adults who had remained unmarried or divorced saw the highest rate of Dementia. Vegard Skirbekk, who works for the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH/FHI) and is an author signed onto the study, stated, “Being married can have an influence on risk factors for dementia.”
The overall causes of dementia are still unknown, and teams of researchers have discovered that a number of factors can influence someone’s risk of developing the disease. Such factors were taken into account for this long-term study.
At the end of the study, authors “estimate that, had all participants been continuously married (and shared the same underlying somatic and mental health plus social characteristics of those who marry), 6% of the dementia cases in our study would not have occurred. This is a considerable reduction and is equivalent to the proportion of dementia cases accounted for by smoking and obesity combined, as reported by the Lancet dementia commission in 2020.”
It was also discovered that the act of having kids also results in a lower risk of developing dementia. Out of all the unmarried people analyzed, those who had children sported a massive 60% decreased risk of dementia.
As a doctor at St. Olav’s Hospital and professor at NTNU who is also a researcher at NIPH/FHI, Asta Håberg spoke out about the findings from the study as they spoke about having children.
“Some people have theorized that if you have children, you stay more cognitively engaged. For example, you have to deal with people and participate in activities that you wouldn’t otherwise have to. This stimulates your brain so that it possibly works better. That way you build up a kind of cognitive reserve,” explained Håberg.
Overall, Skirbekk was quick to admit that the sudy does not look into the biology behind dementia. However, “it shows that being married can have an influence on risk factors. You become more cognitively active, you cope better with adversity and are less subject to stress. The partner represents a security that provides a buffer.”