Wednesday, January 20, 2021

First-of-its-kind study finds agriculture workers at greater risk of developing dementia

A first-of-its-kind study found that agriculture workers are at a greater risk than non-agriculture workers of developing dementia. 

University of Iowa researchers used 1998-2014 data from the Health and Retirement Study, a longitudinal study of about 20,000 people over age 50 in the U.S. Those who had worked long-term in agriculture, fishing and forestry were 46% more likely to develop dementia than others. Younger seniors, those who were fully retired, and those who had worked for over 10 years at their longest-held job were even more likely to develop premature dementia or cognitive decline.

The peer-reviewed study was published in the Journals of Gerontology, and may be able to help researchers develop effective interventions to protect older farmers. The study couldn't attribute the association with dementia to hearing impairment or depression (both of which are independently associated with agriculture and dementia), but pesticide exposure may be related.

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