Rising air pollution increasing the risk of dementia in elders

According to reports, seven percent of people over 65 suffer from some form of dementia, and 40 per cent after the age of 85, globally.

Air pollution has been a topic of discussion for many health hazards for the younger generation, but a new study has proved that air pollution caused by the vehicles is associated with an increased risk of dementia. Despite ruing out other risk factors that lead to dementia, like drinking and smoking, the link remained pretty much the same.

The research, published in the journal BMJ Open, the researchers wrote, "Primary prevention of all dementia is a major global public health concern for the coming decades."

To find out about how pollution affects mental health, a team of researchers led by Iain Carey from the University of London's Population Health Research Institute looked at health records for 131,000 people living in Greater London who, in 2004, were aged between 50 to 79. The participants had no signs of dementia when the study began.

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Based on their residential addresses, the scientists estimated yearly exposure to both NO2 and PM2.5 particles to track the health of the participants for a seven-year period. During that period, 2,200 patients, that s 1.7 per cent, were diagnosed with dementia. The team found that one fifth of the patients, living in the most heavily polluted areas, were 40 per cent more likely to be plagued than the one fifth who resided in the least polluted ones.

The authors, however said that study was based on after-the-fact analysis rather than a clinical trial, so no firm conclusions could be drawn for the cause-and-effect. But the findings strongly suggested that the chemical byproducts of burning diesel and petrol can damage brain function. "Traffic-related air pollution has been linked to poorer cognitive development in young children," the study noted.

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