An American study by the University of Michigan found a potential link between air pollution and dementia. What is the real story behind this?
Approximately 10% of adults aged 70 and above in the United States are reported to have dementia. A recent study conducted by the University of Michigan suggests that inhaling molecules commonly known as PM2.5 increases the risk of developing dementia as one age. These small molecules are inhaled into the lungs and then spread throughout the body, eventually reaching the brain via the bloodstream.
A study conducted on 27,000 Americans over the age of 50 has shown a clear link between air pollution and dementia. The participants were given cognitive tests twice, once during the study and again several years later. The results indicated that 15% of individuals who lived in areas with high levels of air pollution experienced a decline in their cognitive abilities.
PM2.5 molecules are created by various sources, such as factory smoke, traffic jams, fires, and chemical waste from facilities. Air pollution is more widespread in densely populated industrial cities and less prevalent in rural areas with cleaner air. This may partly explain the increase in dementia rates among older adults compared to the past when factories and vehicles were less common.
Dementia is characterized by a gradual decline in mental abilities, including memory, reasoning, and judgment. The effects of dementia can be significant, not only for the person affected but also for their family and loved ones. As a result, studies aimed at identifying risk factors and ways to reduce the spread of this problem.