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Major Stressful Life Events May Accelerate Brain Aging in Men

A new study found that major adverse life events, called fateful life events by the research community, such as divorce, conflict, death in the family or financial hardship can measurably accelerate aging in the brain in middle aged men. Just one fateful event could cause the brain to appear a third of year older than their chronological age, based on an MRI.

The researchers studied almost 360, primarily white men ages 57 to 66.

Chronic stress has long been linked with premature aging, but the study’s authors say their findings provide a possible link between stressful life events and brain changes. They say a broader research pool is needed to determine if findings can be replicated. 

The study was published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging with funding from the National Institutes of Health.

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Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from the Marshall Health, Charleston Area Medical Center and WVU Medicine.

Copyright 2018 West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Kara Leigh Lofton is the Appalachia Health News Coordinator at West Virginia Public Broadcasting. Previously Kara was a freelance reporter for WMRA, an affiliate of NPR serving the Shenandoah Valley and Charlottesville in Virginia. There she produced 70 radio reports in her first year of reporting, most often on health or environmental topics. One of her reports, “Trauma Workers Find Solace in a Pause That Honors Life After a Death,” circulated nationally after proving to be an all-time favorite among WMRA’s audience.