Brain decline can begin at 45
The study, published on the British Medical Journal’s website, shows that the brain’s capacity for reasoning, memory and comprehension can begin to deteriorate at age 45. Previous research suggested brain decline does not begin until the age of 60, but that view has never been universally accepted.
The study looked at 5,198 men and women – all civil servants aged 45 to 70 – over the ten year period of 1997 to 2007.
Their cognitive function was assessed three times during the study period, and different education levels were taken into account. They were tested for vocabulary, memory, and aural and visual comprehension skills.
The results showed a decline in all areas except vocabulary, and older participants experienced a faster decline.
Over the ten year period both men and women aged 45-49 saw a 3.6 per cent decline in mental reasoning, while men aged 65-70 saw a 9.6 per cent decline and women of the same age group saw a 7.4 per cent decline.
The study authors argue that the evidence showing cognitive decline before the age of 60 should be looked at as motivation for promoting a healthy lifestyle from an early age.
They add that targeting those with more than one risk factor for heart disease is important, as more research shows that heart health is linked to brain health.
Source: British Medical Journal