It has long been known that air pollution is associated with a high health risk. Scientific studies have shown that a heavy particulate matter load massively increases the risk of cancer. A recent study now provides evidence that people living in large cities with heavy air pollution also have an increased risk of Alzheimer’s and suicide.
More and more dementia patients
In Germany, about 1.6 million people suffer from dementia, two-thirds of them are affected by Alzheimer’s disease. For years, it has become apparent that the number of people with dementia continues to rise – and not just in Germany. Experts predict that by 2030, more than 74 million people worldwide will suffer from dementia due to demographic trends. While the exact causes of the disease are still unclear, scientists have identified a number of factors involved in the development and development of dementia. Now researchers from the US report that even heavy air pollution could benefit Alzheimer’s.
Risk factors for Alzheimer’s
Last year, an international team of researchers reported nine identified risk factors for dementia:
According to the experts, these include hearing loss in middle age, lack of education in adolescence, smoking, depression, physical inactivity, social isolation, hypertension, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
However, even more factors are known that can benefit Alzheimer’s. High alcohol consumption, for example, or even minor injuries to the brain.
Even prolonged sitting promotes dementia, as scientists from the University of California recently reported.
According to an international team of scientists, particulate matter can cause Alzheimer’s. This is also shown by a recent study by researchers from the USA.
Increased risk of dementia and suicide
Researchers at the University of Montana have published a study in the journal “Journal of Environmental Research,” which points to increased risks of Alzheimer’s and suicide in children and young adults living in polluted megacities.
The investigation of the team around Dr. med. Lilian Calderón-Garcidueñas is based on the analysis of 203 autopsies by residents of Mexico City between the ages of 11 months and 40 years.
The urban agglomeration is home to 24 million people exposed daily to high particulate matter and ozone concentrations.
Deposits in the brain
In the brains of young city dwellers who have been exposed to high particulate pollution for life, researchers found elevated levels of the two abnormal proteins hyperphosphorylated tau and beta-amyloid.
The study also showed a direct correlation between the deposition of apolipoprotein E (APOE 4), which was considered an early indicator of later Alzheimer’s disease, and the amount of measurable traces of particulate matter in the body.
The authors believe that the harmful effects are caused by tiny particles of dirt that enter the brain through the nose, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract and spread throughout the body.
According to the researchers, their findings also suggest that Alzheimer’s disease begins in early childhood:
“Alzheimer’s marks start in childhood in a polluted environment and we need to take effective preventative measures early on,” Calderón-Garcidueñas said in a statement. “It’s useless to respond to that decades later.”