Air Pollutants May Trigger Dementia, Alzheimer's Disease: Study

By Dane Lorica, | February 04, 2017

Air Pollution May Trigger Dementia

Air Pollution May Trigger Dementia

A new study suggests that air pollutants from vehicles and power plants may increase an individual's risk for Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

Over 3,000 women whose age ranges from 65 and 79 years old were examined. These individuals initially did not show any sign of dementia. Dr. Jiu-Chiuan Chen said "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."

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According to Caleb Finch of the University of Southern California, the particles that come from fossil fuels are inhaled by humans and end up into the brain. Neurons consider these particles as invaders resulting to inflammatory reactions which later on, may trigger Alzheimer's disease.

In particular, PM2.5, a pollutant with a size of 2.5 micrometer can be easily inhaled and may cause damages on mental health. Researchers from an earlier study said that people residing in traffic roads and polluted areas are highly susceptible to 12 percent higher risk of developing dementia.

The researchers wrote "we hypothesized that long-term PM2.5 exposure increases the risk for accelerated global cognitive decline and dementia, further exacerbated by APOE ε4."

Further, data from the Women's Health Initiative Memory Study (WHIMS) revealed that in 3,647 analyzed individuals, older women who reside in highly polluted areas have 81 percent higher chance of developing cognitive problems while 91 percent have higher risk for dementia.

Similarly, a laboratory experiment using mice also revealed that pollutants have worse effects on women carrying the genetic variation APOE4 gene which is linked with increased risk for AD. The researchers added that female mice with the gene had 60 percent more amyloid plaque accumulation following exposure compared to those animals without the genetic variation.

Dr. Chen said "if people in the current administration are trying to reduce the cost of treating diseases, including dementia. Dementia and cognitive disorders result to memory and reasoning defects and changes in an individual's personality. The research work was published in the Nature journal Translational Psychiatry.

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