POOR relationships between people could increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, new research shows.
Health warnings over the effects of being with the wrong partner or arguing constantly came after experts analysed a decade of data on 10,055 participants who were dementia-free at the start of a pioneering study in 2002-2003.
Researchers from the University of East Anglia, University College London, London Metropolitan University and the University of Nottingham measured positive and negative experiences using a scale ranging from 1-4 with higher values indicating more of positive or negative support.
An increase of one point in the positive social support score led to up to a 17 per cent reduction in the instantaneous risk of developing dementia, findings showed.
Positive support was characterised by having a reliable, approachable and understanding relationship with spouses or partners, children and other immediate family.
But negative support scores showed stronger effects – an increase of one point in the negative support score led to up to 31 per cent rise in the risk.
The shocking findings come from a pioneering study that has followed 10,055 participants since 2002
Negative relationships could be detrimental to cognitive health
Dr Laura Phipps, Alzheimer’s Research UK
Dr Mizanur Khondoker, senior lecturer in medical statistics at University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School, said: “It is well known that having a rich network of close relationships, including being married and having adult children, is related to a reduced risk of cognitive decline and developing dementia.
Arguing with your partner constantly could increase your risk of suffer from the disease
“It is not only the quantity of social connections, but the quality of those connections may be an important factor affecting older people’s cognitive health.”
Dr Laura Phipps, of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “This study suggests negative relationships could be detrimental to cognitive health and increase the risk of dementia, but it’s not clear how much personal interactions themselves are directly to blame.”