Being too cynical increases risk of dementia.Vinoth Chandar/Flickr

Possessing a cynical attitude can increase the risk of developing dementia, claims a new study.

According to the study, participants with the highest cynical distrust had a three-time higher risk of developing dementia than others. Cynicism is the tendency to distrust other people's sincerity and integrity.

Dementia is a syndrome related to the brain that leads to memory loss, difficulty in communicating, thinking, understanding, judgment, planning and the ability to perform daily routines.

Nearly 35.6 million people around the world are estimated to be affected with dementia, and nearly 7.7 million new cases are reported every year.

Previous studies have linked cynical distrust to a series of health problems, including heart disease.

In the new study, Anna-Maija Tolppanen, and colleagues from the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio, looked at 1,449 people. All the participants were aged around 71. During the study, the participants took dementia tests and completed questionnaires on cynicism.

Questionnaires contained some statements like "I think most people would lie to get ahead", "It is safer to trust nobody" and "Most people will use somewhat unfair reasons to gain profit or an advantage rather than lose it". Participants were asked to choose the statement they most agreed with. Later, based on the intensity of cynicism, researchers divided the participants into three different groups - low, moderate and high.

Of the 622 participants, who took dementia tests twice, 46 received a positive diagnosis. Results provided enough evidence to prove the role of cynical distrust in dementia development. Prevalence of dementia was more common in people with high levels of cynical distrust (14 out of 164) than people with low levels of cynicism (nine out of 212).

However, the study could not find any link between cynicism and early death.

"These results add to the evidence that people's view on life and personality may have an impact on their health," said Dr Tolppanen, author of the study, in a news release.

"Understanding how a personality trait like cynicism affects risk for dementia might provide us with important insights on how to reduce risks for dementia."

The study has been published in the online issue of the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, Neurology.

Prevalence of dementia and Alzheimer's disease is estimated to be low in India, compared to the developed countries.

Some factors which have been found to increase the risk of these two conditions are excessive cleanliness, ageing, head trauma, family history of the disease, genetic mutations, unhealthy lifestyle - including smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise - and exposure to prolonged stress in middle age.