High Levels of Air Pollution Might Be Associated with Increased Risk of Dementia in Women, Study Suggests

Feb, 2021 - By SMI

High Levels of Air Pollution Might Be Associated with Increased Risk of Dementia in Women, Study Suggests

Published in Neurology, medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, the study found that women living in higher levels of air pollution may suffer from brain shrinkage.

Fine particles of pollution includes microscopic particles of smoke, dust, chemicals and other pollutants of less than 2.5 micrometers in size. Dr. Diana Younan of the University of Southern California said that brain shrinkage is the major symptom of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease but whether air pollution is associated with the brain structure or not, it is still being studied. The team of researchers found that women of more than 70 years of age when exposed to higher levels of air pollution faced increased risks of brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore the study suggests that these toxins might disrupt the structure and connections of the brain leading to the disease.

The team studied 712 women of 78 years average age who did not have dementia at the beginning of the study. With their residential addresses, their average exposure to air pollution was determined before their MRI scan which was also received by the participants after five years. According to the United States Environmental Pollution Agency (EPA), the average yearly exposure of air pollution is safe up to 12 μg/ m3.

At the end of five years, the team found brain shrinkage in both, women exposed to higher levels of pollution as well as women exposed to pollution levels safe according to the EPA. Dr. Younan said that more researches is required to study this effect of air pollution deeply. Since this study solely focused on women of more than 70 years of age, therefore the results might differ in men as well as younger women.

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