A recent study sheds light on a worrying new factor related to Alzheimer’s disease. According to this pioneering research, living in close proximity to major traffic routes can significantly increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, as well as causing changes in brain structures.
Scientists have discovered that this phenomenon is primarily associated with air pollution caused by traffic, providing a deeper understanding of the harmful effects of air pollution.
This pioneering study was conducted in China and the UK, and the results, recently published in the scientific journal Science Partner, provide a worrying insight into the effects of air pollution on brain health. While previous research has suggested a relationship between air pollution and dementia, this study has made progress by identifying and understanding the specific mechanisms involved in this relationship.
To conduct this research, scientists analyzed data from 460,901 participants over an average follow-up period of 12.8 years. Using the UK Biobank, the researchers verified cases of dementia, providing a reliable and detailed data set.
In addition to analyzing dementia cases, the researchers performed brain MRIs, revealing changes in brain structures associated with Alzheimer’s disease, even in the pre-symptomatic stages. It is important to highlight that the study controlled for several risk factors, including genetic predisposition, providing a precise and comprehensive analysis.
The role of air pollution
Study results consistently indicate a direct link between living near crowded areas and a significant increase in the risk of developing dementia. Air pollution from traffic, including substances such as nitrogen dioxide and PM2.5, has emerged as a major culprit. Surprisingly, unlike previous research, this study found no significant relationship between long-term noise pollution and dementia.
In addition to increasing the risk of dementia, proximity to traffic has also shown a consistent association with smaller brain volumes in specific regions associated with Alzheimer’s disease, providing clear, concrete evidence of the real-world brain health implications of this exposure.
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