Cynical, distrustful people may be more prone to dementia, a new Finnish study contends.
Those traits have been linked with other health problems, such as heart disease, the researchers noted.
According to Anna-Maija Tolppanen at the University of Eastern Finland, cynics may be more prone to dementia than those more apt to trust others.
In the study of 1,500 people with an average of 71, participants took different tests to measure dementia and their level of cynicism.
Those who agreed with statements such as “I think most people would lie to get ahead” and “It is safer to trust nobody” were judged deeply cynical and, as it turns out, were 2.5 times more likely to develop dementia than participants ranked at the bottom of the cynical scale.
While true cynics might scoff at these findings, cynicism often masks anger and hostility, which other studies have shown to be bad for one’s health.
Cynical people tend to lead unhealthy lifestyles and are more prone to stress, which can cause high blood pressure and other factors that may hasten death.
Dr. Hilary Tindle, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, who wasn’t part of the study, says hope is not lost for cynics.
Tindle believes, “People can learn to change — they change every day in that they quit smoking, they lose weight, they cut ties in unhealthy friendships. The ultimate message is people are not ‘doomed’ if they have cynical tendencies.”