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Road pollution: Does air pollution increase Alzheimer's risk?


Increased Risk: Does Air Pollution Promote Alzheimer's?

It has long been known that air pollution is a health hazard and, among other things, can cause cancer under high loads. In recent years, studies have also indicated that dirty air may cause brain damage. Researchers now want to investigate whether poor air quality can also influence the development of Alzheimer's disease.

Health effects of air pollution

As an international team of researchers reported in the journal "Nature" years ago, around 35,000 people die in Germany alone from the consequences of air pollution. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around seven million deaths worldwide annually. It has long been known that fine dust pollution can damage the lungs and increase the risk of cancer, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks. In recent years, studies have also shown that air pollution can significantly increase the risk of dementia. Scientists from Germany and the Netherlands now want to find out in a research project whether poor air quality can also influence the development of Alzheimer's.

Exact causes of Alzheimer's are still unclear

Around 1.5 million people in Germany suffer from dementia, the majority of them have Alzheimer's. The disease is not curable.

Although research has been going on for over 100 years, it is still unclear what the exact causes of the disease are.

Scientists have meanwhile identified a number of factors that play a role in the development and development of dementia.

British researchers reported that a third of dementia cases could be prevented if certain risk factors were eliminated from childhood. The nine risk factors for dementia identified by the scientists are:

Hearing loss in middle age, lack of education in adolescence, smoking, depression, lack of exercise, social isolation, high blood pressure, obesity and type 2 diabetes.

British experts did not mention air pollution as a possible cause of Alzheimer's.

Impact of poor air quality on Alzheimer's development
However, recent observational studies now show that people who live near busy roads are at increased risk of cognitive impairments.

Dr. Roel Schins from the IUF - Leibniz Institute for Environmental Medical Research in Düsseldorf now wants to work with his Dutch project partner Prof. Dr. Flemming Cassee (RIVM Bilthoven / NL) to find out whether poor air quality near busy streets can influence the development of Alzheimer's disease.

"If poor air quality actually triggers or speeds up the disease process, legislators could intervene," said Dr. Roel Schins in a message.

"That's why we want to find out which components of traffic-related air pollution can lead to possible cognitive impairments."

Are fine dust particles or rather gaseous components dangerous?

According to the information, Dr. Roel Schins using a mouse model is investigating whether there is a causal relationship between air pollution and an increased risk of Alzheimer's.

For this purpose, the effects of different components of the outside air on a busy road on the rodent brain compared to clean air are examined.

This could determine whether the particulate matter or more gaseous components are particularly harmful. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: NTU research shows air pollution may increase risk of dementia (August 2020).