Summary: Loneliness and lack of social support contribute to a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. The findings add to the growing body of evidence linking social isolation and Alzheimer’s disease.
Social determinants of lifestyle, including social isolation, are associated with risk factors for neurodegeneration, according to a new study published this week in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Kimia Shafighi of McGill University, Canada, and her colleagues.
Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) is a growing public health crisis, with an annual global cost of more than US$1 trillion. There has been growing evidence that social isolation is associated with an increased risk of ADRD, but the links between social lifestyle and other known risk factors for ADRD are less well understood.
In the new work, the researchers studied data from 502,506 participants in the UK Biobank and 30,097 people enrolled in the Canadian Longitudinal Study of Aging. Both studies had questionnaires that included questions about loneliness, frequency of social interactions, and social support.
The study found a wide range of associations between potentially modifiable MADR risk factors and loneliness and lack of social support. People who smoked more, drank alcohol excessively, had trouble sleeping, and did not frequently participate in light to vigorous physical activity—all known risk factors for MADR—were more likely to feel lonely and sleepy. lack social support.
For example, in the CLSA, increased regular participation in physical exercise with others was associated with a 20.1% lower risk of feeling lonely and a 26.9% lower risk of social support. insufficient.
Physical and mental health factors previously linked to ADRD, such as cardiovascular disease, visual or auditory impairment, diabetes, and neurotic and depressive behaviors, were also associated with subjective and objective social isolation. In the UKBB, for example, difficulty hearing with background noise corresponded to a 29.0% increase in the odds of feeling lonely and a 9.86% increase in the odds of lacking social support.
The odds of feeling lonely and lacking social support were also 3.7 and 1.4 times higher, respectively, based on a participant’s neuroticism score.
The authors conclude that social isolation, which can be changed more easily than genetic or underlying risk factors for health, could be a promising target for preventive clinical action and policy interventions.
The authors add: “Given the uncertain impact of social distancing measures imposed by COVID-19, our results highlight the importance of studying the multi-scale effect of social isolation to inform health interventions. Public for SARD”.
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Original research: Free access.
“Social isolation is linked to classic risk factors for dementia linked to Alzheimer’s disease” by Kimia Shafighi et al. PLOS ONE
Social isolation is linked to classic risk factors for Alzheimer’s dementia
Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias are a major public health burden that will worsen over the next few years due to longevity. Recently, clinical evidence has hinted at the experience of social isolation in accelerating the onset of dementia.
In 502,506 participants in the UK Biobank and 30,097 participants in the Canadian Longitudinal Study of Aging, we revisited traditional risk factors for developing dementia in the context of loneliness and lack of social support.
Through these measures of subjective and objective social deprivation, we identified close links between the social capital of individuals and various risk indicators for Alzheimer’s disease and associated dementias, which were reproduced in the two population cohorts.
The quality and quantity of daily social encounters had deep associations with key etiopathological factors, which represent 1) personal habits and lifestyle factors, 2) physical health, 3) mental health, and 4) health factors. societal and external.
Our population-wide assessment suggests that social determinants of lifestyle are linked to most risk factors for neurodegeneration, highlighting them as promising targets for preventive clinical action.