Cynicism, distrust linked to dementia, new study says

Turns out being a cynical or distrustful person could lead to a higher risk of some serious health problems later in life.

"A study in the journal Neurology finds people who are the most cynical are more likely to develop dementia later on. And it also found that people with high levels of cynicism were more likely to die sooner." ​(Via NBC)

It's unclear exactly why, but the study's researchers say cynical people might have higher levels of inflammation or different levels of stress-related hormones, which are both known risk factors for many diseases. (Via Flickr / Reigh LeBlanc)

Previous studies have also linked cynicism and distrust to other health conditions, including heart disease.

The BBC quotes one of the study's authors as saying: "These results add to the evidence that people's view on life and personality may have an impact on their health. People with different personality traits may be more or less likely to engage in activities that are beneficial for cognition, such as healthy diet, cognitive or social activities, or exercise."

The researchers discovered this newest association by studying 1,449 people with an average age of 71. They had each participant take two tests — one for dementia, and one to measure his or her level of cynicism. (Via Neurology)

CNN reports the cynicism questionnaire includes statements such as, "'Most people will use somewhat unfair reasons to gain profit or an advantage rather than lose it'; 'I think most people would lie to get ahead'; and 'It is safer to trust nobody.'"

Participants who agreed with the critical statements were classified by the researchers as highly cynical. And those participants were three times more likely to develop dementia than those who fell in the lowest cynicism category. (Via Neurology)

Now, the study's researchers are careful to point out their work shows an association between cynicism and dementia, not a direct cause-and-effect relationship.

Experts agree more research into the subject is needed before any concrete conclusions can be drawn. But the director of medical and scientific operations at the Alzheimer's Association told HealthDay, "People should live their lives doing things they enjoy and staying active and engaged in life, and that will be better for their health overall."

The study was published Thursday in the journal Neurology.

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