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Married people less at risk of developing dementia

Being married may help stave off dementia, while those who lose their partner or remain single are at greater risk of developing symptoms, researchers say


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Being married may help stave off dementia, while those who lose their partner or remain single are at greater risk of developing symptoms, researchers say.

A team from University College London analysed 15 existing studies involving 800,000 participants from Europe, North and South America and Asia.

Writing in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry the researchers said single people were 42% more likely to develop dementia than those who were married.

Those who had lost their partner were 20% more likely to develop dementia than married people. The authors said bereavement increases stress levels and is associated with impaired nerve signalling and cognitive abilities.

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There was no clear association of dementia risk between divorced and married people, although the authors said the sample size of divorced people was small.

The paper says marriage may help both partners to have healthier lifestyles, including exercising more, eating a healthy diet, and smoking and drinking less, plus boosting opportunities for social engagement – a factor that has been linked to better health and lower dementia risk.

'Our findings, from large populations across numerous countries and time periods are the strongest evidence yet that married people are less likely to develop dementia,' the authors said.


Sommerlad A et al (2017) Marriage and risk of dementia: systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry. doi: 10.1136/jnnp-2017-316274

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