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A little cynicism may be healthy, but too much can lead to dementia

That’s what Finnish researchers say, if you believe them that is.

He's not buying it.
He's not buying it.

ARE YOU A cynical person? You may feel that a little cynicism is healthy and stops people taking advantage of you, but a new Finnish study has found that elderly people with high levels of cynical distrust are more likely to develop dementia.

The study which was carried out by the University of Eastern Finland and published in the American Academy of Neurology found that cynical people are three times more likely than trusting people to develop dementia.

The study worked by giving 1,449 people with an average age of 71 tests for dementia and a questionnaire to measure their level of cynicism.

The questionnaire has been shown to be reliable, and people’s scores tend to remain stable over periods of several years.

People were asked how much they agree with statements such as “I think most people would lie to get ahead”, “it is safer to trust nobody” and “most people will use somewhat unfair reasons to gain profit or an advantage rather than lose it”.

Based on their scores, participants were grouped in low, moderate and high levels of cynical distrust.

A total of 622 people completed two tests for dementia, with the last one an average of eight years after the study started. During that time, 46 people were diagnosed with dementia.

Once researchers adjusted for other factors that could affect dementia risk, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking, people with high levels of cynical distrust were three times more likely to develop dementia than people with low levels of cynicism.

Of the 164 people with high levels of cynicism, 14 people developed dementia, compared to nine of the 212 people with low levels of cynicism.

Read: What’s the difference between Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia? >

Read: There is only one respite bed per 450 people with dementia in Ireland >

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About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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