Inhaling polluted air increases the risk of developing Alzheimer's

Inhaling polluted air increases the risk of developing Alzheimer's

The scientific community has been warning for years about the harmful effects of pollution on the human body, and specifically on the brain. There are already hundreds of studies showing, for example, how pollution affects children's development and cognitive abilities. There is also countless research suggesting how pollutant particles emitted by industry and traffic directly affect the heart, lungs and brain in adults. Moreover, in recent years, more and more research indicates the relationship between pollution and neurodegenerative diseases. A study published yesterday in the Journal of Neuroscience showed how people most exposed to pollution have a greater risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

The research, led by a team of experts from the North American Academy of Neurology, focused on analyzing the effect of particulate matter emitted by traffic on the human brain (specifically, those known as PM2.5). To do this, samples of 224 patients with dementia who lived in areas particularly exposed to this type of pollution and thus experienced directly and intensely the effect of these polluting particles on their organisms were studied. In all cases, the patients, who died at approximately 76 years of age, agreed to donate their bodies to science to better study these neurodegenerative diseases.

The study authors reported that patients most exposed to pollution were more likely to have high levels of amyloid plaques in the brain, one of the most characteristic signs of Alzheimer's disease, in gray matter. The study indicates that people who were exposed to severe levels of pollution in the year before their death were twice as likely to have excessive accumulation of these plaques in the brain. “This suggests that environmental factors such as air pollution could be a risk factor contributing to the development of Alzheimer's disease. Especially in the case of patients whose disease cannot be explained by genetic causes,” explains Anke Hoelz, a researcher at Emory University. University of Atlanta and first author of this research paper. In this sense, the expert points out that “more research is needed to understand the mechanisms behind this association,” but nevertheless, it is increasingly clear that there is a direct relationship between the two phenomena.

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Brain atrophy

This is not the first time that a study has proven a direct link between pollution and Alzheimer's disease. A study conducted by the Barcelona Brain Research Center (BBRC) and the Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) in Barcelona, ​​for example, showed that air pollution increases the risk of brain disorders, and thus increases the risk of neurodegeneration. Diseases such as Alzheimer's. In this case, researchers found a link between exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter smaller than 10 microns (PM10) and the risk of brain atrophy and less cortical thickness in areas particularly vulnerable to Alzheimer's disease.

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