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Air Pollution Seems to ‘Cause’ Dementia

Posted on 30 September 2019

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Recent studies have suggested that exposure to air pollution is a major risk factor for dementia by inducing systemic inflammation, especially in the brain.

I have no hesitation whatsoever to say that air pollution causes dementia,


says Caleb Finch, gerontologist and the leader of USC’s Air Pollution and Brain Disease research network, which has completed many of these new studies. In terms of its effects on our health and welfare, Finch says,

air pollution is just as bad as cigarette smoke.


A 2018 study followed 130,000 older adults in London, and found that Londoners exposed to the highest levels of air pollution were about one and a half times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s across the study period than their neighbors exposed to the lowest levels.

A 2017 study published in The Lancet followed all adults living in Ontario (roughly 6.5 million people) for over a decade and found that those who lived closer to major high-traffic roads were significantly more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease across the study period, regardless of their health at baseline or socioeconomic status.

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    2. Carey IM, Anderson HR, Atkinson RW, et alAre noise and air pollution related to the incidence of dementia? A cohort study in London, EnglandBMJ Open 2018;8:e022404. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-022404
    3. Hong Chen, Jeffrey C. Kwong et al. Living near major roads and the incidence of dementia, Parkinson's disease, and multiple sclerosis: a population-based cohort study. The Lancet, 389, 10070, 2 2017. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(16)32399-6
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