Other research suggests that people with more years of formal education are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s. Some experts theorize that longer education may produce a denser network of synapses in the brain. Synapses are the nerve-fiber connections in the brain that enable neurons to communicate with one another.
A dense synapse network may create a kind of “neural reserve” that enables people to compensate longer for the early brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s. However, there could be other answers to this. Further research is required.
Early Life Experiences
Unsurprisingly, the environment in which a person lives especially early in life – has been implicated as a risk factor for many chronic adult diseases, including Alzheimer’s.
However, a recent study has linked a surprising selection of environmental, socio-economic, and early life experience factors to Alzheimer’s. For example :
An increased number of siblings was associated with increased risk of Alzheimer’s.
A rural residence in childhood, combined with fewer than six years of school, was associated with an increased risk for Alzheimer’s.
Growing up in the country, rather than in the suburbs, was associated with an increased risk for Alzheimer’s.
These findings were not explained by patients’ educational level or whether they carried the APOE gene that is associated with Alzheimer’s.
Such results appear to support a possible link between socio-economic or environmental variables and altered brain growth and development, which in turn may affect the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life.
A number of researchers have conducted these types of epidemiological studies to learn about the various factors that can have an impact on the development of Alzheimer’s. Though such findings can be suggestive and interesting, they can also be conflicting or incomplete and highly controversial, because different teams of investigators may use different study methods and because of the complexity of the issues and the mind-boggling number of variables involved.
Head Trauma History
Some studies have found that Alzheimer’s occurs more often in people who have suffered traumatic brain injury earlier in life. For example, people who have received a number of concussions from motorcycle or horse riding accidents seem to be more likely to develop Alzheimer’s later in life.
A study of World War II veterans also indicated that moderate to severe head injury increased risk of developing Alzheimers disease and other dementias. Other studies have found that this risk is further increased if the head injury resulted in loss of consciousness.
Some sports, such as boxing, also have definite links with Alzheimers, especially where a person has been forcefully punched over a number of years and knocked out on one or more occasions. Further research is required to further study this potential link.