Reducing Dementia Risk by 50% in Middle Age: New Research Findings
We are often told about the dangers of spending too much time in front of a screen, but a new study shows that regular internet use may reduce the risk of dementia.
Researchers at New York University followed 18,000 adults aged 50 to 65 for about eight years.
They were asked at the start of the study and every two years thereafter if they use the Internet “regularly” to send email, shop, browse or book a vacation. And those who answered “yes” most of the time had a 50% lower risk of being diagnosed with all forms of dementia than those who said “no” at the end of the study.
Scientists have suggested that the “digital divide” may be due to the fact that the Internet stimulates the brain to protect itself from degradation.
Historically, older people have stayed away from the Internet compared to younger people. But the advent of smartphones means that more older people are going online.
In the latest study, researchers surveyed participants between 2002 and 2018 about their internet use.
Each of them was asked, “Do you regularly use the World Wide Web or the Internet to send and receive e-mail, or for any other purpose such as shopping, searching for information, or booking tickets?”
It turned out that those who answered “yes” are considered ordinary users, and those who answered “no” are considered ordinary users.
Participants were then interviewed every two years until 2018 with an analysis of the results.
At the start of the study, none of the participants had dementia, but at the end of the study, 1,183 people, or about five percent of the participants, were diagnosed with it.
In the smart online group, 224 out of 10,333 participants were diagnosed with dementia (1.5% of the total).
In the other group, 959 of 7821 participants (10.45%) fell ill.
The scientists adjusted for other risk factors, including education, ethnic group, gender, generation, and signs of cognitive decline.
But they still found that those who used the Internet regularly had a 50% lower risk of developing dementia.
They did not take into account other factors such as smoking, alcohol use and obesity, which are known to increase the risk of dementia.
Previous research has also shown that internet use can prevent dementia by motivating people to learn new skills and reducing feelings of loneliness.
In a second experiment, the NYU team also found that two hours of internet use per day seemed ideal for preventing cognitive decline in older adults.
In this part of the study, they studied 4,000 participants in 2013 who were asked how often they use the Internet.
The results showed that those who used it for up to two hours a day had the lowest risk, while those who used the Internet for more than eight hours had more than double the risk.
At the other end of the scale, those who were online most of the time had a 67% higher risk of developing dementia.
The limitations of the study are that it was observational, which means it cannot prove that Internet use is associated with a higher risk of dementia.
It also relied on users’ self-reports of Internet use, which could vary greatly between participants.
Source: Daily Mail
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