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Conscientious choices

india Updated: Oct 03, 2007 21:40 IST

It may sound incredulous but researchers in Chicago have concluded that conscientious people are less prone to Alzheimer’s disease. That may well raise eyebrows, especially as they haven’t yet figured out why this may be so. But the study of 1,000 Catholic nuns and priests over 13 years has made them conclude that good people don’t easily get the disease. Conscientiousness was measured on a five-point scale of productivity, goal-orientation, etc. Those who believed themselves to be scrupulous had an 89 per cent lower risk of the disease than the ones who felt they slipped on that special metre. That sounds almost theological in its good and not-so-good dividends. Of the total, 176 developed dementia leading to Alzheimer’s, and all of them considered themselves to be less conscientious.

There are about 18 million people suffering from Alzheimer’s all over the world. Identified in 1906, the disease is a brain-wasting condition that leads to memory loss and confusion. While the experts are treading with caution before giving the conscientiousness-Alzheimer’s correlation a thumbs up, it’s an observation the world seems to be warming up to. The conclusions tend to suggest that the resilience that accompanies making the correct choices helps people cope with life’s struggles.

If further studies do manage to conclusively prove that strong ethical fibre leads to a stronger brain, well, Alzheimer’s might just find itself dubbed as a choice-of-life disease — not unlike those in the multi-million industry of lifestyle diseases. So, is discipline the key?