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Poverty and perceived hardship affect cognitive function and may contribute to premature aging, say investigators

A new study finds strong associations between sustained exposure to economic hardship and worse cognitive function in relatively young individuals.

Poverty and perceived hardship over decades among relatively young people in the U.S. are strongly associated with worse cognitive function and may be important contributors to premature aging among disadvantaged populations, report investigators in theĀ American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Rising income inequality in the U.S. means that four out of five Americans will live near poverty at least once in their lives, according to a recent Associated Press survey. Previous research has shown that exposure to poor socioeconomic conditions during childhood, adulthood, or cumulatively, is associated with cognitive deficits. However, most of these studies involved older adults and so there is little data on whether economic adversity influences cognitive health much earlier in a person’s life.

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