HealthDay News — The combination of a rural upbringing and higher education levels may be protective against dementia and Alzheimer disease (AD) for African-Americans, according to a study published online April 16 in The Journals of Gerontology: Series B.
Hugh C. Hendrie, M.B.C.h.B., from the Regenstrief Institute in Indianapolis, and colleagues examined the possible association of childhood residence, education levels, and occupation with declining incidence rates of dementia in two cohorts of elderly African-Americans (1,440 participants in 1992 and 1,835 participants in 2001, aged ≥70 years).
The researchers found that the 2001 cohort had significantly decreased risk of both incident dementia and AD (hazard ratios [HRs], 0.62 and 0.57, respectively). A decreased risk of dementia was associated with years of education (HR, 0.93; P = 0.0011). The risk of AD was significantly lower for those with a rural childhood residence but a higher education level (HR, 0.87; P = 0.0477). However, there was no association between higher education levels, an urban upbringing, and AD risk. For dementia rates, the association was lessened when adjusting for the three factors, but remained significant (HR, 0.75; P = 0.04).
“These results emphasize the importance of early life factors, including rural residence and education, for the risk for dementia later in life,” the authors write.