Can an Internet Connection Cut Your Dementia Risk by Half?

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Critics long have charged that watching too much TV rots your brain. However, it appears that using the internet may have the opposite effect.

Using the internet regularly may cut the risk of being diagnosed with dementia by roughly half, according to new research published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

In the study, researchers followed more than 18,000 adults between the ages of 50 and 65 for varying lengths of time to a maximum of about 17 years. Eventually, 4.68% of those adults developed dementia.

Those who used the internet regularly had a lower risk of dementia than those who did not use it regularly. That link was consistent regardless of factors such as education, race and ethnicity, sex and generation.

In a summary of the study’s findings, corresponding author Dr. Virginia W. Chang of New York University says:

“Online engagement may help to develop and maintain cognitive reserve, which can in turn compensate for brain aging and reduce the risk of dementia.”

The researchers say their findings are similar to those of earlier studies, according to a USA Today report that detailed the new study findings. Use of the internet appears to boost:

  • Cognitive performance
  • Verbal reasoning
  • Memory

Despite the promising findings, the researchers did not find a definitive cause-and-effect link between using the internet and reduced risk of dementia.

In addition, the researchers note that too much of the internet might have negative impacts. USA Today reports that in the study, the researchers write:

“Excessive online engagement may lead to reduced opportunities for in-person social interactions and disengagements from the real world in favor of virtual settings, which may in turn adversely affect cognitive health.”

For more news about dementia prevention and treatment, check out:

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