Being married halves your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, say researchers.
A study shows the importance of close companionship in midlife, with a 50 per cent lower rate of dementia affecting those who have a partner. It found those who stay alone after divorce have a threefold risk of suffering Alzheimer's in later life. The 21-year study highlights a higher risk of developing memory and cognitive problems for all those who live alone, whether single, divorced or widowed.
Previous research has suggested social isolation or lack of personal contact carries an increased risk of dementia and mental decline, with U.S. experts claiming last year that lonely people were more likely to develop the degenerative brain disease in old age.
But the Swedish study presented yesterday at the International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease in Chicago is the first to look specifically at whether being married cuts the risk.
Alzheimer's is the most common cause of dementia, afflicting more than 700,000 Britons.
In the latest study, researchers led by Dr Krister Hakansson at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm investigated records on 1,449 people living in Finland in mid-life and again in 1998, an average of 21 years later.
Altogether 139 had some form of dementia, 82 with mild cognitive impairment and 48 with Alzheimer's. The research team found those living with a partner in mid-life had a 50 per cent lower risk of having dementia in late-life compared to those living alone. This remained the case even after adjustments were made for factors linked to a higher risk of Alzheimer's, including education, obesity, cholesterol, blood pressure, occupation, physical activity, smoking habits, depression, genes, age and gender.
The researchers found people who had been single all their life had a doubled risk of dementia.
Divorcees who remained single after a marriage split in mid-life had a tripled risk.
Most dramatically, those who lost a partner before mid-life and remained alone had a six times higher risk of developing dementia compared with those married throughout mid and late life.
Source - Daily Mail