Healthy Living

Growing Up in a Rural Area May Double Your Risk of Alzheimer's, Study Says

Alzheimer's disease man
Image REUTERS/Rick Wilking

While many individuals who opt to live in a rural neighborhood because of low crime rates, less noise, pollution or to start a family, new research suggests living in a rural neighborhood may double the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.   

According to researcher Dr. Tom Russ, from the Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Research Centre at the University of Edinburgh, he theorizes the increased risk may be due to factors such as access to healthcare, exposure to an unknown substance and/or socioeconomic factors.

Alzheimer's disease's main symptom is the loss of short-term memory. Individuals may be able to recollect events that have occurred years ago, but they will struggle to remember incidents that happened within the last few days. Other symptoms include, but are not limited to, resisting change, asking repetitive questions or trouble organizing thought and thinking logically.

Prior studies have analyzed how rural areas and urban areas may affect the disease. However, because of different definitions regarding city life and country life, results have been deemed inconclusive.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh, the Medical Research Council and University College London analyzed a combination of results from several studies. The studies were conducted all over the world and spanned several decades.

Researchers used the meta-analysis design in order to achieve a better overall indication of the risks and benefits of an individual's daily life and its impact on Alzheimer's disease. The results determined an individual who was born and raised in the suburbs, compared to individuals born and in the city, had double the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease later in life.

The study was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology

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