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Alzheimer's: Belief In Negative Age Stereotypes Increases Risk

First Posted: Dec 07, 2015 05:53 PM EST

Certain stereotypes about age could increase your risk of Alzheimer's disease, according to a recent study.

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health found that those who held stereotypes regarding fading memory and elderly individuals were more likely to exhibit brain changes seen in those with Alzheimer's decades later.

"What we found is that negative perceptions on aging are definitely significantly related to [Alzheimer's] disease indicators," said study lead author Becca Levy, an associate professor at the Yale School of Public Health in New Haven, Conn., via Health Day.

During the study, researchers analyzed brain autopsies of subjects from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging who did not have dementia. Among those with negative aging stereotypes, researchers found significantly higher amounts of two biomarkers linked with Alzheimer's-including amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles.

Of course, more research is needed and researchers can't yet be certain why holding negative views might increase the risk. For instance, people with these negative thoughts could show increased stress-a risk factor of Alzheimer's disease. On the other hand, those with negative stereotypes about aging may be less likely to exercise and practice a healthy diet.

The study is published in the journal Psychology and Aging.

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