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Job stress increases risk for brain, memory decline

A new study at the Colorado State University in the United States, has found that physical stress in one’s job may be associated with faster brain ageing and poorer memory. These findings under the research topic ‘Work and Brain Health Across the Lifespan,’ were published in the journal ‘Frontiers in Human Neuroscience’.

An Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at the Colorado State University, Aga Burzynska and her research team, found that those who reported high levels of physical stress in their most recent job had smaller volumes in the hippocampus and performed poorer on memory tasks. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that is critical for memory and is affected in both normal ageing and in dementia. Burzynska said that the results of the study could have important implications for society.

“Caring for people with cognitive impairment is so costly, on economic, emotional and societal levels,” she said, adding, “If we can support brain health earlier, in middle-aged workers, it could have an enormous impact.” Burzynska said stress could accelerate physical ageing and was the risk factor for many chronic illnesses, adding, “But this is the first evidence that occupational stress can accelerate brain and cognitive ageing.” According to her, it is important to understand how occupational exposures affect the ageing of the human brains. Citing an example of job demands and their associated burden, Burzynska highlighted: “An average American worker spends more than eight hours at work per weekday, and most people remain in the workforce for over 40 years.”

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