Cynicism, the belief that humans are dishonest and selfish by nature, is used as a defense mechanism by many people.
Cynical individuals may feel that by expecting the worst from people, they can be prepared for when they get hurt, which to them seems inevitable.
While these individuals may feel they are protecting themselves, new research has found that they may actually be increasing their risk of dementia.
A new Finnish study published in the journal Neurology correlated a cynical outlook on life with a higher risk of developing dementia. The study, which began with 1,449 people with an average age of 71, and ended with 622 people completing all of the tests an average of eight years later, consisted of a series of tests to indicate dementia, as well as questionnaires to determine level of cynicism.
After factors such as age, self-reported state of health, blood pressure, blood sugar, and weight were accounted for, the researchers found that while four percent of the individuals with low cynicism levels developed dementia, eight percent of the individuals with high levels of cynicism developed this degenerative condition.
The researchers hypothesize that these results may have to do with the cynics having higher levels of inflammation or changes in their stress hormones. They do caution that cynicism may be an early symptom of dementia itself, and that more research is needed to develop this connection, but assert that this study definitely shows cause to dig deeper.
Study leader Anna-Maija Tolppanen of the University of Eastern Finland states: “These results add to the evidence that people’s view on life and personality may have an impact on their health. Understanding how a personality trait like cynicism affects risk for dementia might provide us with important insights on how to reduce risks for dementia.”
Suggestions by the researchers include counseling, which may help individuals to get at the root of a cynical outlook and explore ways to change it.
A positive outlook, on the other hand, has been linked to many health benefits, including a longer life. People who tend to see the good in situations are often better at managing their stress. As stress has been found to weaken the immune system, impair cognitive function, and spike blood sugar, keeping stress levels in check is certainly in the best interest to health in many ways.
While more research on the cynicism-dementia connection is yet to come, there is no question that a positive attitude, with others and with yourself, is an important part of enhancing your quality of life and your overall well-being.
-The Alternative Daily