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Scientists Find Improved Air Quality Reduces Dementia Risk In Older Women

by Irma Katherine

How important is air quality? According to a study from the United States, improving air quality can reduce the risk of dementia in women aged 74 to 92 and reduce the possibility of memory loss & brain function decline.

Research has found that air quality is one of the variables of dementia risk. (Photo via unsplash.com)

Los Angeles, CA (Merxwire) – Epidemiological studies have shown that improving air quality can improve respiratory health and reduce mortality. In addition, there is a growing body of data supporting the link between air pollution and dementia risk. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) found that dramatic reductions in air pollution could reduce the risk of dementia among older women. 

The study analyzed 2,232 female subjects who lived in 48 contiguous U.S. states and were predominantly non-Hispanic white women, none of whom had been diagnosed with dementia at the start of the study. Researchers used the Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status (TICSm) and the Telephone-based California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT) as an annual measure of cognitive function from 2008 to 2018.

To understand the association between air quality and cognitive function, the researchers conducted average cross-validation of subjects’ performance on the test and changes in annual average outdoor air pollution concentrations in the area where they lived.

During the study period, 398 subjects (about 18%) developed dementia. The data showed that subjects living in areas with greater reductions in particulate matter particle size of ≦2.5 (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) suffered from dementia compared to areas with less improvement in air quality lower risk.

The researchers said that people living in areas with about 20 percent lower PM2.5 and NO2 had a 20 percent lower risk of developing dementia.

Air quality not only affects people’s cognitive function of the brain, it may cause other health problems. (Photo via unsplash.com)

Researcher Diana Younan said reducing exposure to air pollution may lead to healthier brains in older women. Air pollutants can cause inflammation in the lungs and blood, which can be harmful to an already aging brain, affecting brain function. She stressed that continued efforts to monitor air quality are important to improve brain health in older women.

In addition, air quality is also one of the main factors leading to lung cancer. The number of lung cancer patients worldwide is increasing; in the past, smoking was the leading cause of lung cancer, and governments called for people to stay away from smoking. However, smoking numbers have declined in some countries, while lung cancer rates have increased.

Cities with severe industrial pollution have more particulate matter, so industrial areas are more prone to lung cancer. In particular, PM2.5 micrometers have more substantial penetrating power, can penetrate lung tissue, and enter the blood along with blood vessels, which greatly impacts the human body and ecology. Therefore, reducing air pollution and caring for the earth cannot be delayed.

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