Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Genes, brainpower and scary areas

Most researchers now think that our genes, our environment, our experiences and our behaviour work together to increase, or decrease, our risk of disease. One gene which is linked to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease is APOE4 and researchers from Drexel University School of Public Health in Philadelphia have been researching how this gene is affected by living in a 'psychosocially hazardous' - i.e. scary - neighbourhood. They studied 1,124 people aged between 50 and 70, testing them for the gene and giving them a series of cognitive tests. The people with the risky variation of the gene who lived in the scariest neighbourhoods performed worst in the tests. However, those without the gene who lived in the scary areas and those with the gene who lived in less-frightening parts of town were at no greater risk of worse performance.

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