Certain intellectually stimulating leisure activities reduce the risk of dementia, a study has found.
Women, but not men, who regularly read a newspaper are 35 percent less at risk of dementia than the rest of the population.
Men, however, are 36 percent less at risk of dementia if they regularly use a mobile phone. The same protection was not seen for women.
Analysis also revealed married people who participate in a pastime or hobby are 30 per cent less at risk of dementia.
Researchers looked at 13 leisure activities and their influence on dementia risk — six were deemed to be 'intellectual' and seven were considered 'social'. Mobile phone use and reading the paper were found to be statistically significant at reducing dementia risk.
Men over 50 are 36 percent less at risk of dementia if they regularly use a mobile phone. The same protection was not seen for women (stock)
The first author of the study, Pamela Almeida-Meza, a Ph.D. student at UCL, told MailOnline: 'In the fight against dementia, it has been well established that certain modifiable risk factors such as cardiovascular health and depression management are essential for prevention.
'However, our new findings contribute to the evidence showing that in addition to this, we can provide our brains with the ability to tolerate damage while retaining function by choosing to engage in an enjoyable lifestyle.
'Most importantly, our research was carried out in individuals aged 50 years and older, showing that it is never too late to finish that book, re-visit our hobbies, or even start practicing a new skill.'
Researchers investigated the role a range of activities played on dementia risk by following more than 8,000 over-50s for up to 15 years.
They looked at 13 leisure activities and their influence — six were deemed to be 'intellectual' and included hobbies, reading the paper, using a mobile phone, and being online.
Seven were considered 'social' and included such things as being a member of a sports club, going on holiday, socializing with friends, and volunteering.
The majority of the participants (70 percent) said they regularly do between two and four intellectual activities.
Just three percent of the participants reported no engagement in any intellectual leisure activities and four percent said they did all six activities.
Ms. Almeida-Meza said that doing more activities increased a person's protection. For each additional activity, the risk of dementia dropped by nine percent.