Thursday October 17, 2019

Here’s How Poverty Linked with the Ageing Process

The study shows that the financially challenged also had higher inflammatory levels

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malnutrition
Experts demand actions against poor diets to eradicate any ways of malnutrition by 2030, a global goal set by the Agenda for Sustainable Development. Pixabay

Genetics, lifestyle and environment are all factors that somehow influence when and how we all age. Now, researchers have revealed that four or more years with an income below the relative poverty threshold during adult life may accelerate the ageing process.

For the study published in the journal European Journal of Ageing, the researchers have tested 5,500 middle-aged persons, using various ageing markers: physical capability, cognitive function and inflammatory level.

The results were then compared with the participants’ income throughout the 22 years leading up to the test. An annual income of 60 per cent below the median income is considered relative poverty.

“We have found that there is a significant correlation between financial challenges and early ageing. And this is important in order to be able to instigate preventative measures”, said study co-author Rikke Lund, Professor at the University of Copenhagen.

“With our results, we show that poor finances are a strong indicator of early ageing – this knowledge can be used to prevent the problems,” she added.

For the findings, the participants have been through both physical and cognitive tests, each of which is an expression of general strength and function.

Elderly women beg money at a pavement in Calcutta on 11 September 2012. India’s official poverty rate as per Planning Commission, stands at 29.8 per cent, or near to 350 million people using the 2010 population figures.

The researchers measured the participants’ grip strength, how many times they could get up from and sit on a chair in 30 seconds and how high they could jump.

“There is a significant difference between the test results. People who have been below the relative poverty threshold for four or more years in their adult life perform significantly worse than those who have never been below the threshold,” Lund said.

The results show that the financially challenged group, relative to the comparison group, can get up and sit down two times less per 30 seconds and that their grip strength is reduced by 1.2 kilos.

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In addition, the researchers have measured the inflammatory level of the participants.

A high inflammatory level is a sign that the body is in a state of alert and can likewise be used as a marker for illness and ageing.

The study shows that the financially challenged also had higher inflammatory levels. (IANS)

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Unstable Income may have Influence on Brain Health

Our results provide evidence that higher income volatility during peak earning years are associated with worse brain aging in middle age

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Income, Brain, Health
Income volatility is at a record level since the early 1980s and there is growing evidence that it may have pervasive effects on health. Pixabay

Researchers have warned that young adults who experience annual income drops of 25 per cent or more may be more at risk of having thinking problems and reduced brain health in middle age.

There may be several explanations as to why an unstable income may have an influence on brain health.

People with a lower or unstable income may have reduced access to high-quality health care which may result in worse management of diseases like diabetes, or management of unhealthy behaviours such as smoking and drinking.

“Income volatility is at a record level since the early 1980s and there is growing evidence that it may have pervasive effects on health,” said study senior author Adina Zeki Al Hazzouri, assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health.

Income, Brain, Health
There may be several explanations as to why an unstable income may have an influence on brain health. Pixabay

“Our results provide evidence that higher income volatility during peak earning years are associated with worse brain aging in middle age,” Hazzouri added.

The study involved 3,287 people who were 23 to 35 years old at the start of the study. Participants reported their annual pre-tax household income every three to five years for 20 years, from 1990 to 2010.

Researchers examined how often income dropped as well as the percentage of change in income between 1990 and 2010 for each participant.

Based on the number of income drops, participants fell into three groups: 1,780 people who did not have an income drop; 1,108 who had one drop of 25 per cent or more from the previous reported income; and 399 people who had two or more such drops.

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Participants were given thinking and memory tests that measured how well they completed tasks and how much time it took to complete them.

Researchers found that people with two or more income drops had worse performances in completing tasks than people with no income drops. On average, they scored worse by 3.74 points or 2.8 per cent.

“For reference, this poor performance is greater than what is normally seen due to one year in ageing, which is equivalent to scoring worse by only 0.71 points on average or 0.53 per cent,” said first author Leslie Grasset of the Inserm Research Center in Bordeaux, France.

Participants with more income drops also scored worse on how much time it took to complete some tasks.

Income, Brain, Health
People with a lower or unstable income may have reduced access to high-quality health care which may result in worse management of diseases like diabetes, or management of unhealthy behaviours such as smoking and drinking. Pixabay

Of the study group, 707 participants also had brain scans with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at the beginning of the study and 20 years later to measure their total brain volume as well as the volumes of various areas of the brain.

Researchers found when compared to people with no income drops, people with two or more income drops had smaller total brain volume.

People with one or more income drops also had reduced connectivity in the brain, meaning there were fewer connections between different areas of the brain.

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“While the study does not prove that drops in income cause reduced brain health, it does reinforce the need for additional studies examining the role that social and financial factors play in brain ageing,” said researchers in a paper published in the journal Neurology. (IANS)