Mental Decline Can Start At Age 45

We tend to take for granted that we'll lose mental agility and memory as we age, but when does that process kick in? A recent study suggests that it might happen as early as 45. Yikes!

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The British Medical Journal today published the result of a study of 7,000 men and women over 10 years from 1997. Regular testing of memory and brain capacity led to the conclusion that the brain's capacity in these areas deteriorating from the age of 45 in some individuals. Earlier studies have suggested that 60 is a more typical age for such decline.

I'm a heck of a lot closer to 45 than 65, so should I panic? Not necessarily. In a comment issued by the Australian Science Media Centre, Southern Cross University Associate professor John Stevens notes that the study suggests the same activities which ensure good health in other areas also help keep our brains at full function:

The research also indicates that 'what is good for the heart is good for the brain' meaning that that the same lifestyle risk factors that cause abnormal decline, in heart health and function (obesity, high blood sugars, high blood pressure, hyperlipidaemia, low physical activity etc) affect the cognitive health and rate of decline of the brain in similar ways.

So the next time you're tempted to skip your exercise routine, remember that your brain as well as your biceps will benefit.

Timing of onset of cognitive decline [BMJ]


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