Alzheimer's disease has been linked to air pollution in the U.S. for the first time, based on evidence from a new study which also ties smoking to dementia.
The new research, published in the journal Translational Psychiatry on Tuesday, ties air pollution to Alzheimer’s disease, which leads to memory loss and the destruction of other mental functions, according to the Los Angeles Times.
According to the study, older women who breathed in air polluted by vehicle exhaust nearly doubled their chances of suffering from dementia. Along with toxic fumes from automobiles, power plants pose a big threat, said the Daily Mail.
The study, which surveyed women aged 65 to 79 for a decade, also showed that women with the APOE-e4 gene variant were almost three times more likely to fall victim to dementia if they inhaled heavily polluted air, said the Los Angeles Times.
“Microscopic particles generated by fossil fuels get into our body directly through the nose into the brain,” said Professor Caleb Finch, co-author of the study.
“Cells in the brain treat these particles as invaders and react with inflammatory responses, which over the course of time, appear to exacerbate and promote Alzheimer’s disease.”
“Our study – the first of its kind conducted in the U.S. – provides the inaugural scientific evidence of a critical Alzheimer’s risk gene possibly interacting with air particles to accelerate brain aging,” said Jiu-Chiuan Chen, co-senior author of the study and an associate professor of preventive medicine at USC, per the Science Bulletin.
The study also links tobacco to cognitive disease.
“Although the link between air pollution and Alzheimer’s disease is a new scientific frontier, we now have evidence that air pollution, like tobacco, is dangerous to the aging brain,” Finch said, per the Daily Mail.
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