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Having a cognitively stimulating job might reduce the risk of developing dementia, according to new research in the BMJ

Thursday 19 August 2021

New research published in the British Medical Journal on 19 August has found that people with mentally stimulating jobs may be at lower risk of developing dementia in older age.

Using data from over 100,000 participants in cohort studies from the IPD-Work consortium (Individual Participant Data meta-analysis in working populations), Prof. Mika Kivimäki and colleagues at University College London examined the association between cognitively stimulating work and dementia risk over time. Following a model developed by the sociologist Robert Karasek, highly-stimulating jobs were defined as those which were mentally demanding and in which the employee had to control and organise her/his own work. On the other hand, low-stimulation jobs were defined as those where employees had little control over their work, which was often repetitive and non-demanding.

Participants were tracked for an average follow-up period of 17 years, looking at if and when they developed dementia, and assessing the presence of established risk factors for the disease. The researchers found that the incidence of dementia was 7.3 people per 10,000 in the group with low cognitive stimulation at work. In comparison, participants with highly stimulating jobs had a dementia incidence of 4.8 people per 10,000, even when data was corrected to adjust for risk factors such as hypertension and education status. In relation to the age of dementia onset, this equates to a delay of approximately 1.5 years, although the researchers cautioned that there may be considerable variation between individuals. 

https://www.bmj.com/content/374/bmj.n1804

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