A new study finds those who have mentally demanding jobs may decrease their risk of Alzheimer's disease.
For the study, researchers examined 122 people with Alzheimer's disease and 235 healthy individuals. The participants were questioned about their occupational history from their 20s through their 50s. The information gathered included the type of job, length of job, and most important activities in the job. Researchers then used various measures to determine the mental, physical, social and fine motor skills for the different jobs.
The study found, on average, people with Alzheimer's disease held jobs with lower mental demands than those without the disease. When researchers broke it down by decade, they found the two groups had the same level of mental demands in their jobs in their 20s, but those with Alzheimer's disease had less mental demands in their 30s, 40s and 50s. They also found those with Alzheimer's disease had jobs with more physical demands. However, no differences were seen in social and motor demands of the jobs held by the two groups.
Researchers say they are not clear what the link is between mentally demanding occupations and Alzheimer's disease, however they have several theories. Researchers say the disease could have an early effect on the individual to prevent them from pursuing challenging jobs. It could also be that more mental demands could help reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease. Another theory is jobs with higher mental demands could require skills that help an individual perform better on tests used to diagnose Alzheimer's disease.
Thus researchers say that there are several limitations to their study including looking at socioeconomic status of the individuals and also environmental exposures in the occupations. However, they say the results of this research indicate that mentally demanding occupations have a direct influence on the risk of developing Alzheimer disease.