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New Research Suggests That High Inflammation During Young Adulthood Is Linked With Cognitive Decline In Middle Age

Syda Productions - stock.adobe.com - illustrative purposes only, not the actual person

Studies have shown that chronic stress can lead to persistent inflammation in the body. Inflammation is also associated with physical inactivity, obesity, smoking, and chronic illness.

Now, a new study conducted by researchers at the University of California – San Francisco revealed a surprising relationship between inflammation during young adulthood and cognitive decline in middle age.

While previous research has associated higher inflammation in older adults with dementia, this study is among the first to link inflammation in early adulthood with reduced cognitive abilities in midlife.

“We know from long-term studies that brain changes leading to Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias may take decades to develop. We wanted to see if health and lifestyle habits in early adulthood may play a part in cognitive skills in midlife, which in turn may influence the likelihood of dementia in later life,” explained Amber Bahorik, the study’s lead author.

For this research, the team followed participants in the CARDIA study – a long-term research project aimed at identifying factors during young adulthood that contribute to cardiovascular disease later on.

A total of 2,364 adults between the ages of 18 and 30 years old at the start of the study were followed. The participants’ inflammation was monitored for 18 years via four tests for the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (CRP).

Then, five years later, they underwent cognitive testing. At that point, the participants were in their forties or fifties.

This approach enabled the researchers to observe how inflammation impacts brain health in the long term.

Among the participants, 45% had lower stable inflammation; meanwhile, 16% had moderate or increasing inflammation, and 39% had higher levels of inflammation.

Syda Productions – stock.adobe.com – illustrative purposes only, not the actual person

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