People can expect their brain function to begin to deteriorate from as young as 45, research claims.
A study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) found mental reasoning declined by 3.6% in both men and women aged 45-49.
This challenges previous research, which suggests cognitive decline does not begin before the age of 60.
Researchers led by Archana Singh-Manoux from the Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health in France and University College London in the UK observed over 7,000 male and female civil servants aged between 45 and 70 over a 10-year period from 1997.
Participants were tested on their memory, vocabulary and aural and visual comprehension skills. A faster cognitive decline was recorded in older individuals with a 9.6% loss in men aged 65-70 and 7.4% in women of the same age.
Differences in education level were taken into account.
It is hoped the evidence will encourage the promotion of a healthy lifestyle as a way of stemming off cognitive decline.
Researchers claim those patients that are obese, suffer with high blood pressure or high cholesterol should be targeted to help safeguard them from dementia in later life.
Francine Grodstein, an Associate Professor of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, said the study “has profound implications for prevention of dementia and public health.”
She said more “creative research” using telephone and computer cognitive assessments, needs to be undertaken.