Findings from a study recently released at the International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease reveal that those who spend their 40s and 50s focusing on life’s daily woes may find themselves dementia-free in later years. Men who ruminated (went over and over worrisome details) during middle life were less likely (30-40%) to develop dementia in their 80s. The study was composed of 9,000 participants in the Israeli Ischemic Heart Disease study who were assessed for rumination in 1963. According to Ramit Ravona-Springer, M.D., of Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, rumination is the “unintentional process of repetitively focusing attention on one’s depressed mood and potential causes and implications of it.” In order to measure rumination participants were asked questions like, “when your wife/ children/peer/superior hurts you, do you forget this, tend to forget, tend to ruminate, or usually ruminate.” The following is an excerpt of an article from Medpage Today that reviews the study’s findings:
Men who said they forgot or tended to forget scored low on the rumination scale with a one (forget) or two (tended to forget), while those who said they tend to ruminate received a three, and those who usually ruminate were given a four.
In 1999, the researchers conducted follow-up examinations on 1,715 of the 2,600 survivors of the original cohort.
At follow-up, 24% of the men who forgot about hurts inflicted by co-workers or superiors and 21% of those who forgot a hurt by a child or wife had developed dementia.
But only 14% of the men who usually ruminated over hurts inflicted by spouses or children and 15% of those who ruminated about hurts inflicted by peers and bosses had developed dementia.
There were no differences in blood pressure, cholesterol levels, diabetes, or tobacco use by rumination status.
Men with the highest rumination score had a slightly higher survival rate after age 70 — 63% — but it was not significantly different from the survival rate for men with low rumination scores.