In a new dementia study, researchers have found that jobs which require complex thinking and daily social interaction have a better chance of fighting the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
Lawyers, teachers and doctors came out on top when scientists analysed the defence mechanisms against the onset of the disease.
Those with the least protection had occupations in shelf-stacking, machine operating and labouring.
Researchers at the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centre in Wisconsin found that complex thinking combined with social engagement at work was a defining factor for fighting the disease.
After studying white matter hyperintensities (WMHs) – the white spots that appear on brain scans commonly associated with Alzheimer’s – in 284 adult patients, they found that the people who worked alongside colleagues and clients were less likely to be affected by brain damage caused by WMHs, as opposed to people who work with “things or data”.
“These findings indicate that participants with higher occupational complexity are able to withstand pathology associated with Alzheimer’s and cerebrovascular disease and perform at a similar cognitive level as their peers”, said Elizabeth Boots, a researcher at the centre.
“This association is primarily driven by work with people, rather than data or things. These analyses underscore the importance of social engagement in the work setting for building resilience to Alzheimer’s disease.”
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, a condition affecting around 850,000 people in the UK.