Sharpening Your Wits Could Outwit Alzheimer's

WEDNESDAY, June 27 (HealthDay News) -- Doing plenty of mentally-stimulating activities -- such as playing chess, reading a newspaper, or attending a play -- in old age helps reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease, according to a study of more than 700 elderly Americans.

The Chicago residents, who averaged 80 years of age at the start of the study, underwent annual cognitive testing for up to five years. During the study, 90 people developed Alzheimer's disease, and 102 died.

However, the Rush University Medical Center researchers found that those who were "cognitively active" were 2.6 times less likely than those who got minimal mental stimulation to develop Alzheimer's disease.

The study, published June 27 in the journal Neurology, also found that frequent mental stimulation was associated with a reduced risk of mild cognitive impairment -- a transitional stage between normal aging and dementia -- and less rapid decline in cognitive function.

The researchers said their findings may help in the development of strategies to prevent or delay Alzheimer's disease.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, June 27, 2007

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