Memory loss in elderly caused by continuous stress?

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Memory loss and poor brain function in some elderly people could be the result of the negative effects of long-term stress, according to a recently released study.

While the harmful effects of chronic stress on physical health are well known, stress also has a significant impact on the function of the brain, according to the findings of researchers at the Douglas Hospital Research Centre, Montreal, Quebec.

Published in the scientific journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, the study shows increased stress hormones lead to memory impairment in the elderly.

Researchers measured the stress hormone cortisol in older adults over a period of three to six years and found that people with continuous high levels of cortisol performed poorly on memory tests. In addition, the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory also was much smaller in these individuals.