Study: Air Pollution May Cause Alzheimer's Disease, Other Forms of Dementia Among Older Women
Feb 03, 2017 11:45 AM EST
With President Donald Trump not holding back when it comes to opposing the concept of global warming and climate change, environmental laws are also expected to undergo possible changes. New research is still offering insights to the effects of air pollution on dementia. Breathing heavily polluted air caused by vehicle exhaust and other similar sources is likely to double the risk for older women to develop dementia.
A study published for the journal Translational Psychiatry highlighted the cognitive impact of air pollution, noting that women who have the APOE-e4 genes are more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease when continually exposed to air pollution.
"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," said study co-senior author Caleb Finch, who also works at the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology in the University of Southern California.
For the study on air pollution and dementia, the USC researchers gathered samples consisting of air particles with technology that left female mice to be exposed to air pollution. Data analysis was also carried out among over 3,600 women aged between 65 and 79 years old in the United States. None of the participants had dementia prior to the study.
After taking race, ethnicity, health and lifestyle into consideration, the scientists found that older women who reside in areas where air pollution is widespread and exceeds safety standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are likely to be at a higher risk (81 percent) for cognitive decline. A 92 percent increased likelihood of developing Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia can be expected among these individuals. The adverse effects of air pollution on cognitive health were particularly evident among women who have the APOE-e4 gene.
According to environmental health specialist Dr. Jiu-Chiuan Chen, there has been a steady decline of air pollution since new federal standards were set in 2012. However, it remains unclear whether such standards ensure safety for the cognitive health of the aging, or for those who are genetically at risk for Alzheimer's, as pointed out by Los Angeles Times.
"If people in the current administration are trying to reduce the cost of treating diseases, including dementia, then they should know that relaxing the Clean Air Act regulations will do the opposite," Chen said.