Lifespan exposures and healthy aging – University of Copenhagen

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Projects in Lifespan exposures and healthy aging

Life course exposures

A major focus is on the influence of life course social inequalities as well as major life events (e.g. divorce, death of close family members, job loss) on early aging as reflected in low-grade inflammation (LGI) physical and cognitive functioning in midlife. Data from the Copenhagen Aging and Midlife Biobank (CAMB) form the basis for these projects as well as register linkage of the cohorts to the Danish Health and Social Registries.

Associations between growth (birth weight, early adult and midlife BMI) over the life course and midlife LGI (CAMB) and associations in older women between education, income and prestige of occupation and LGI are also being investigated. Further studies of early physical growth and early behavioral milestones are based on the Copenhagen Perinatal Cohort with focus on early growth and behavioral milestones as predictors of adult personality and adult intelligence.

Psychosocial risk factors

Based on CAMB studies examine psychosocial risk factors for early aging measured as low grade inflammation (LGI), physical functioning and allostatic load. These include analyses of associations of stressful social relations in private life with LGI and physical functioning and of associations of major life events with allostatic load. We also investigate the association between midlife loneliness and physical functioning.

Age-related changes in cognition

Ongoing projects are analyzing the issue of age-related changes in cognitive function in both middle-aged (CAMB) and older populations (the Glostrup 1914 cohort). Studies are analyzing potential predictors of cognitive decline in old age; these studies include analyses of occupation, leisure time activities and social relations as predictors of cognitive decline. Finally, a large-scale study of associations between mental disorders, in particular alcohol use disorders, and age-related cognitive decline is will be initiated in 2015.

During 2009-13, about 200 men were selected from the Metropolit cohort on the basis of estimated change in cognitive function. The plan is to expand this to a sample of about 600 participants. The assessment includes both neuropsychological assessment and MRI brain scanning. The same assessments will also be included in a new study which will be based on the Copenhagen Perinatal Cohort and include both male and female participants.

Cognition as a risk factor

One study is analyzing the association between young adult intelligence and physical performance in the middle-aged while another study is focusing on associations between young adult intelligence and risk of mental disorders. A first study based on the Danish Conscription Database is analyzing the association between intelligence at the conscript board examination and cause-specific mortality in all Danish males born in the period 1939-59. Studies based on the Glostrup 1914 cohort have a major focus on the association between cognitive function in midlife and several health outcomes in old age such as dental health, decline in cognitive function, decline in physical function, and all-cause mortality.

Life and health expectancy

Analyses evaluate health expectancy for Danes aged 50 and 65 between 2004-2010 and evaluate whether health expectancy continues to increase more than life expectancy. Another project analyses educational inequality in health expectancy before and after the financial crisis in Denmark amongst 50 years olds. Both projects are based on SHARE data.