Growing up in the countryside could DOUBLE the risk of Alzheimer’sPeople raised in rural areas rather than those who moved there later in life faced the greatest risk of brain wasting disease
Cause is currently unclear but may be linked to access to healthcare or even exposure to some unknown substance
Alzheimer's affects an estimated 820,000 people in Britain and the number is expected to more than double in the next 40 years
11:35 GMT, 18 September 2012
Being brought up in the countryside could double the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, according to new British research.
It shows rural living appears to be linked to the brain-wasting disease and that people raised in the country, rather than moving there later in life, face the greatest dangers.
The reasons why remain a mystery but researchers who came up with the findings now plan to investigate the cause.
Distressing: Alzheimer's patients make suffer short term memory loss and confusion (Picture posed by model)
Researcher Dr Tom Russ, from the Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Research Centre at the University of Edinburgh, said: ‘We don’t really know the mechanism. It could be to do with access to healthcare, exposure to some unknown substance, socioeconomic factors, or a number of other factors.
‘We’re currently looking into this question in more detail.’
Alzheimer’s affects an estimated 820,000 people in Britain and the number is expected to more than double in the next 40 years as the elderly population increases.
One of the main symptoms is loss of short-term memory. Although sufferers may recall things that happened decades ago, they struggle to remember events of the last few days.
Other signs of the disease include lack of concentration, confusion and a tendency to wander aimlessly.
In the final stages, patients often lose the ability to move, speak or even swallow.
Some previous studies have looked at how disease rates vary between urban and rural areas.
Stunning: But the tranquility of rural countryside living may increase your risk of developing Alzheimer's
But the results have been inconclusive due to different definitions of what constitutes city or country life.
To get a clearer picture, researchers from the University of Edinburgh, the Medical Research Council and University College London pooled the results of dozens of different studies from all over the world going back several decades, a process known as a meta-analysis.
In the final stages of Alzheimer’s, patients often lose the ability to move, speak or even swallow
This is designed to give a better overall indication of the risks and benefits of lifestyle and its influence on Alzheimer’s disease.
Their results, published recently in the International Journal of Epidemiology, showed that being born and brought up in the country more than doubled the risk of Alzheimer’s disease later in life.
But there was a much smaller increase in risk in other forms of dementia.
The researchers said it is important to identify what might be to blame so that something can be done early on in life to reduce the chances of getting the incurable condition.
In a report on their findings they said: ‘Any attempts at prevention will need to begin sufficiently early in life.’