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Being Single in Midlife Could Raise Risk for Dementia Later
Date:7/30/2008

But worrying about things could be protective, a second study suggests

WEDNESDAY, July 30 (HealthDay News) -- If you are single and in your 40s, it might be a healthy idea to get hitched.

A new Scandinavian study found unmarried middle-aged people are more likely to develop cognitive impairment than their partnered counterparts.

But before you head to the chapel, consider a couple of caveats. "One wonders if the association is the other way around," that those destined to have trouble thinking show symptoms decades before and therefore have trouble with relationships, said Dr. Sam Gandy, chairman of the Alzheimer's Association's National Medical and Scientific Advisory Council.

There's even more to consider. Another study, this one from Israel, suggests that ruminating about life could actually protect your brain. If you're alone, then, perhaps you should worry about it.

In the study of partnered and non-partnered people, said to be the first of its kind, Swedish researchers examined 1,449 Finnish people who were questioned in midlife and then again in 1998, an average of 21 years later.

The results of both studies were expected to be released Wednesday at the Alzheimer's Association 2008 International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease in Chicago.

Almost 10 percent of those in the study were diagnosed with some form of cognitive impairment in 1998; 48 had Alzheimer's disease.

Those who lived with a partner in midlife were less likely to be cognitively impaired than all the others (including those who were widowed, single, divorced or separated).

After the researchers adjusted their figures to take into account the effects of factors such as weight, physical activity and education, those with partners still had a 50 percent lower risk of showing signs of senility in later life compared to those who lived alone. Those who stayed single their whole lives had a doubled
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