Repetitive negative thinking is linked to cognitive decline and more deposits of two harmful proteins that cause dementia, experts have warned in an Alzheimer’s study.
Before now, research had been underway towards discovering lifestyle habits and health symptoms that could be indicative of one’s risks of suffering from neurodegenerative diseases in adult life.
In a new study published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia, scientists measured negative thinking behaviours like ruminating about the past and worry about the future in over 350 people.
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As the subjects, who were of age 55, were monitored over a two-year period, about a third of them underwent a PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scan to measure tau and beta-amyloid deposits.
These two proteins, which are often found in the brain, are known to cause Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia, which is marked for its memory impairment and judgment lapse.
Among other things that the brain scan revealed was that people who spent more time thinking negatively had more tau and beta-amyloid buildup, worse memory, and greater cognitive decline.
Testing for levels of anxiety and depression, the experts also found a greater cognitive decline in depressed and anxious people, although deposits of tau and amyloid did not increase in them.
“We propose that repetitive negative thinking might be a new risk factor for dementia,” said Natalie Marchant, author-cum-psychiatrist at the mental health department of University College London.
“Taken alongside other studies, which link depression and anxiety with dementia risk, we expect chronic negative thinking patterns over a long period of time could increase the risk of dementia.”
Research had earlier established how nodding football among athletes could lead to dementia, ruling that former professional footballers are three and a half times more likely to die from it.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), dementia is a rapidly growing problem affecting around 50 million people globally, with nearly 10 million new cases coming up annually.