The Rush University Medical Center in Chicago examined nearly 1,000 Catholic nuns, priests and brothers.
Those who rated themselves highly conscientious had an 89% lower risk of Alzheimer's than those who thought they were the least self-disciplined.
What do you suppose the term "conscientious" means to a person in holy orders? Does it mean the same to those of us who are non-religious or living in the secular world? To me, conscientious means trying hard not to overlook any detail in a history, physical, lab, or x-ray result. To a nun or brother, it's more likely to mean praying a lot. Not quite the same sort of brain activity.
The full text isn't available without a fee, but here's the abstract. The BBC report provides some details, though:
None of the participants had dementia when the study started in 1994, but 176 went on to develop the disease.
The researchers asked the volunteers to rank themselves on a five-point scale to determine just how conscientious they were. They also carried out medical and neurological tests each year until 2006.
The average score on the conscientious test was 34. Those who scored 40 or higher were found to be much less likely to develop Alzheimer's, and had a slower general rate of mental decline than those who scored 28 or lower.
When the researchers took into account a combination of risk factors, including smoking, inactivity and limited social connections, they still found that the dutiful people had a 54% lower risk of Alzheimer's compared to people with the lowest scores for conscientiousness.
We don't know how significant that "54% lower risk" is, however. It could be the difference between 2 and 1, or between 100 and 50. Take this one with a grain of salt. posted by Sydney on
10/02/2007 07:21:00 AM
Wow, people got money for this? I can't even think of this as a logical study.
You can't define conscientious clearly. But even then, you're looking at a personality trait instead of something biological. Why didn't they examine 500 nuns/priests and examine 500 people and compare/contrast these?
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