C-reactive protein (CRP) is found in the blood and its levels rise in response to inflammation. High levels of CRP have been linked with an increased risk of diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease and now researchers at the University of Muenster in Germany have found that they could also be linked to cognitive problems. The researchers studied 447 people with an average age of 63. The participants had their levels of CRP measured, had MRI brain scans and took tests to measure their verbal memory, word fluency and decision-making. Memory and language skills were found not to be associated with CRP but higher levels of the protein were associated with worse performance in executive function. The MRI scans showed changes to the frontal lobe of the brain equivalent to 12 years of aging for those with the highest levels of CRP compared to those with the lowest levels.
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