The public health specialists underline the fact that air pollution increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia among people. A new study has shown that the very fine particles emitted by cars and power plants invade not just the lungs, but also the brain.
According to Caleb Finch, co-senior author of the study and a researcher at the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, there is strong evidence that air pollution, like smoking, has detrimental effects on the brain.
During the study, the researchers exposed female mice to fine air particles to find out whether it would affect their brain. Then the researchers tried to identify the neuro-degenerative and neuro-developmental health effects on the mice.
The animals had a specific genetic variation in their brains known as APOE4. The team established that APOE4 increased the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. After a 15-week exposure to air pollution, the mice developed 60 percent additional amyloid plaque.
This protein build-up is responsible for triggering the symptoms of Alzheimer’s in humans as well. In the second part of the study, the team collected data from over 3,600 U.S. women aged between 65 and 79 from 48 states.
It is worth mentioning that no woman had dementia at the beginning of the study. The researchers also accounted for other influencing factors, including health status, lifestyle, ethnicity, and race.
Based on the study findings, older women who lived in states where the level of air pollution was above the safe limit were 81 percent more likely to experience cognitive decline. Also, they had a 92 percent higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
The detrimental effects were more prevalent in participants who had the APOE4 gene, according to the authors. Based on the estimates, it means that air pollution accounts for 21 percent of the rates of dementia.
Unfortunately, less than 35 percent of all counties in the United States have particle or ozone pollution monitors. The public health specialists note that six of the ten most polluted cities in the country are in California.
Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are two degenerative brain disorders which cannot be treated or cured. There are just a few medications that can alleviate some symptoms which occur in the early stage of the two conditions. However, these medications are very expensive.
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