Demanding jobs may increase survival in those with fronto-temporal dementia

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Alzheimers Society-care industry newsPeople with more demanding jobs may live longer after developing fronto-temporal dementia than people with less skilled jobs, according to a new study published in Neurology today. Researchers at Pennsylvania State University reviewed the medical charts of 83 people who had an autopsy after death, 34 of whom had fronto-temporal dementia.

Occupations were ranked by US census categories from manual jobs such as factory workers to professional and technical jobs such as lawyers and engineers. The 34 people with fronto-temporal dementia had an average survival time of about seven years. The people with more challenging jobs were more likely to have longer survival times than those with less challenging jobs.  

Alzheimer’s Society comment:  

Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research and Development at Alzheimer’s Society said: ‘There’s a growing body of evidence that high level or demanding jobs may help to weather the effects of fronto-temporal dementia better. This small study suggests that people in those kind of jobs build up what we call a ‘cognitive reserve’ – extra connections in the brain that can mitigate the damage caused by dementia. This could help us to understand why some people survive longer with fronto-temporal dementia than others. These results need to be replicated with a larger number of people to get a better understanding of what this means. We wouldn’t suggest that anyone who’s not a lawyer or an engineer worry as it is likely there are a number of complex factors at play here. While we work to find much needed treatments for all forms of dementia, we know that the best way that anyone in any occupation can reduce their dementia risk is eat a balanced diet, take plenty of exercise and not smoke.’

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