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Stressful experiences 'can age the brain by four years'

STRESS: The Alzheimer's Association International Conference in London revealed that stressful experiences can cause the brain to age

US RESEARCHERS suggest events in life, such as the death of a child, divorce or being fired, can age the brain by at least four years.

The findings – which were presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in London - looked at performance in memory and thinking tests of 1,300 people in their 50s to gauge brain health.

The study did not look at the risk of dementia and experts said there could be many different factors at play.

Although the research didn't establish any direct link between stress and an increased risk of dementia, stressful experiences are known to have an impact on brain function, which could then lead to dementia in the longer term.

Dr Doug Brown, director of research and development for Alzheimer's Society, said studying the role of stress was complex.

"It is hard to separate from other conditions such as anxiety and depression, which are also thought to contribute towards dementia risk."

"However, the findings do indicate that more should be done to support people from disadvantaged communities who are more likely to experience stressful life events."

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