Four hours of TV a day increases the risk of dementia by 20%, an hour at the computer reduces it by 25%, get it

Long TV viewing after age 60 is associated with a higher risk of developing dementia, while reading and computer use have been shown to be protective. This is shown by a new study by researchers from the University of Southern California (USC) and the University of Arizona, both in the United States. The work was published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Research has shown that there is a link between passive and sedentary behavior (such as watching TV) and the risk of dementia even among older people who were physically active.

“It is not time spent sitting per se, but the type of sedentary activity performed during leisure time that affects the risk of dementia,” said study author David Raichlen, professor of biological sciences and anthropology at the Faculty of Philosophy. , USC Arts and Sciences, in a statement. “We know from previous studies that watching TV involves lower levels of muscle activity and energy expenditure compared to using a computer or reading.”

Although research has shown that prolonged sitting is associated with reduced blood flow to the brain, the relatively greater intellectual stimulation that occurs while using a computer can neutralize the negative effects of sitting, the study points out.

Researchers used data from UK Biobank, a large biomedical database with more than 500,000 participants across the UK, to investigate possible correlations between sedentary leisure-time activities and dementia in older people.

More than 145,000 participants aged 60 and over — none of whom had a diagnosis of dementia at the start of the project — filled out questionnaires on tablets that informed them about their level of sedentary behavior during the initial study period from 2006 to 2010.

After an average of nearly 12 years of follow-up, the researchers used the patients’ hospital records to determine the diagnosis of dementia. They found 3,507 positive cases.

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Next, the team adjusted for certain demographics (eg, age, gender, race/ethnicity, job type) and lifestyle characteristics (eg, exercise, smoking and alcohol use, time spent sleeping and contact). social) that could affect brain health.

The data showed that people who developed dementia watched TV for at least three hours and 24 minutes a day. Watching four hours of television a day was associated with a 20% increased risk of dementia compared to those who spent less than two hours in front of the screen. One hour of computer use is associated with a 25% reduced risk of developing the disease compared to no use.

The results remained the same even after the researchers took physical activity levels into account. Even among individuals who are highly physically active, time spent watching television is associated with an increased risk of dementia, and leisure time spent with a computer is associated with a decreased risk of developing dementia.

“Although we know that physical activity is good for brain health, many of us think that if we are just more physically active during the day, we can counteract the negative effects of time spent sitting,” said study author Gene Alexander. , professor of psychology at the University of Arizona, in a statement. “Our findings suggest that the effects of sitting on the brain during leisure activities are indeed separate from how physically active we are. And that greater mental activity, such as computer use, could be a key way to help combat increased dementia risk. linked to more passive sedentary behavior such as watching television”.

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