Surprising link found between air pollution and Alzheimer’s disease
(NaturalHealth365) Is air pollution really getting worse? Yes, according to data shared by many health agencies and news outlets.
Unfortunately, we know that air pollution has been linked to all sorts of health problems including inflammation and respiratory ailments. But, could this environmental issue also explain the rise in Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s disease currently affects at least 5.5 million Americans. By 2050, the prevalence in our country could be as high as 16 million. And in sobering news, a recent paper published in Brain has found that exposure to air pollutants is positively linked to changes in the brain that may lead to this leading type of dementia.
Air pollution linked to dementia, new study
A team of researchers from analyzed data 998 female subjects from the large cohort known as the Women’s Health Initiative. These women, who were between the ages of 73 to 87, had all undergone between one or two brain scans.
The researchers of the current study then compared the results of these brain scans to other information about these women, including where they lived and what the level of air pollution was in those areas. Based on their analysis, a clear link was found.
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The greater a woman’s exposure to fine particular matter – which is emitted from exhaust fumes and smoke and is easily inhaled and imbedded in the body – the more likely she is to have memory problems and other cognitive impairments that are typical of Alzheimer’s disease. This correlation appears to be mediated by the loss of gray matter (brain tissue), which may be triggered by inflammation and damage caused by the pollutants.
These findings held even after the researchers adjusted for confounding factors like smoking status, education level, income, and geographic location.
The researchers conclude that their findings illustrate how exposure to pollution-based particulate matter in the air “contributes to early decline of immediate free recall/new learning at the preclinical stage – independent of cerebrovascular damage” seen with normal aging or other age-related illnesses like stroke.
Protect yourself and your family from the dangers of air pollution with these tips
The World Health Organization has reported that the majority of people in this world (as many as 90% of us) are breathing in polluted air. What can you do to minimize your risk of deleterious health effects?
Try these tips:
- Buy a high quality indoor air purifier.
- Don’t use things like conventional candles and air fresheners, as these contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other harmful compounds.
- Regularly update, clean, and/or replace filters on air conditioners and heaters.
- Keep a tidy home in general by regularly vacuuming, washing sheets and toys, and cleansing your house of mildew and mold.
You may not be able to reduce your exposure to air pollution by 100%, especially depending on where you live and what your lifestyle or occupation is. But, you can make a difference and start breathing easier by making a few simple changes.
Sources for this article include: