Crouse Health Online: Wellness is just a click away.
Share Share
  |  Connect with Us: 
large
med
small
Text Size
 

Health News



Mix of Genetics and Stress Can Impair Mental Abilities

Mix of Genetics and Stress Can Impair Mental Abilities

03/07/11

MONDAY, March 7 (HealthDay News) -- Genetics may predispose some people who live in so-called "hazardous" neighborhoods -- where fear and stress are a fact of daily life -- to face a higher risk for age-related cognitive decline, new research warns.

The culprit is a specific abnormality of the apolipoprotein E gene. The study authors noted that while this gene is known to play a key role in the normal maintenance of basic neurological health, a certain mutation of this gene has also previously been linked to a higher risk for the early onset of Alzheimer's disease.

Now a team of researchers led by Brian K. Lee, of Drexel University in Philadelphia, has found that those carrying the mutation may also face a higher risk for cognitive impairment when they get older, if they live in the kind of threatening environment that routinely elicits "a biological stress response."

The observation is reported in the March issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

The new finding stems from an analysis of mental health data collected during the Baltimore Memory Study, which involved more than 1,100 urban residents living in 63 Baltimore neighborhoods.

All of the study participants were between the ages of 50 and 70. About 54 percent were white; nearly 42 percent were black.

As a whole, 30 percent were found to carry at least one mutation of the gene in question, the researchers found. However, blacks were more likely to carry the mutation than whites (37.3 percent versus 24.7 percent, respectively).

Genetics, in fact, wasn't the sole determinant of how well a person performed on cognitive tests. Any participant living in a stress-inducing environment, regardless of whether they possessed the mutation in question, performed "substantially" worse on the series of tests, which among other things included a focus on language skills, verbal memory and learning, eye-hand coordination and visual memory.

What's more, among those without the telltale mutation, those living in relatively more hazardous neighborhoods performed no worse on cognitive testing than those living in better neighborhoods. And among those with the mutation, those living in relatively better conditions executed the test skills equally well as those without the mutation, according to the study authors.

However, Lee's team found that those who carried the mutation, and also lived in neighborhoods characterized as the most psychosocially hazardous, performed the worst in terms of cognitive skills such as eye-hand coordination, task execution, processing speed and visual-spatial abilities.

More information

For more on mental health, visit the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health.

Copyright © 2011 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

OF INTEREST:
 

Latest News

Crouse Hospital First in Region to Use New da Vinci Xi Surgical System
more >

MedEx Bedside Prescription Delivery Service

Free service offers convenience, patient education at discharge.
more >

CrouseSports Express After-Hours Ortho Care

Immediate care of orthopedic injuries in kids and adults.
more >

Weight Loss Surgery

Is it right for you? Attend a free information seminar held twice monthly.
more >

Quality at Crouse

See how Crouse Hospital strives to provide the best in patient care.
more >

Cheer Up That Special Someone

Say get well or welcome a new arrival with a gift purchased right at Crouse.

more >

Make an Online Donation Now

Your donation of any amount helps support Crouse services & programs in a meaningful way.
more >

Shop Online Now

Say get well, thinking of you or welcome new baby with a unique gift from the Crouse Gift Shop.

more >