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Personality Traits Are A Contributing Factor In Alzheimer’s Risk, Study Shows

A study of nearly 1,000 people found that certain personality traits – specifically conscientiousness – appeared to be a significant factor in reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Even with mental stimulation and exercise taken into account, the link remained strong.

From 1994 to 2006, a Rush University Medical Center study followed 997 Catholic nuns, priests and monks. Neurological exams, cognitive tests and personality surveys were administered to all participants. Answers to such questions as, “I am a productive person who always gets the job done” were the primary basis of the personality test which was structured to determine self-discipline. On a scale from 0 to 48, the average score on this test was 34 points.

Eventually 176 of the participants developed Alzheimer’s disease. The conditions did not develop however, in those whose personalities were meticulous, self-disciplined and productive. In fact, an 89% lower chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease was evident in the participants that scored 40 points or more, than those who scored 28 or lower.

Furthermore, the participants still showed a 54% lower incidence of developing the disease when exercise and intellectual engagement were taken into account.

While Alzheimer’s disease has been linked to amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain, the plaques and protein tangles in the brains of those who scored high in the self-discipline tests in this study were the same as those who scored low; adding even more puzzlement to a disease that is now being called an epidemic.

Frank Mangano’s Commentary:

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Alzheimer’s disease predict that 1 in 85 persons worldwide could suffer the irreversible dementia characterizing the disease, in a little over 40 years. What scientists may never determine however is the role and impact that variables like environmental toxins, dietary choices, exercise and behavior have on the disease.

As always, the best defense is prevention; and as this study suggests, being more conscientious and self-disciplined can greatly reduce your chances of developing this mind robbing disease. Add exercise to the mix and you can lower your risk even more. Read my section on Alzheimer’s Disease for more tips on prevention.

Start by picking up a good book on personal development. I just finished reading “The Success Principles” by Jack Canfield, author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. This book can certainly help you become more self-disciplined and intellectually engaged in your life.

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