Scientists from Imperial College London found how air pollution contributes to dementia and a decline in mental ability.
The research was conducted by Professor Frank Kelly et al.
In the study, researchers analyzed the latest available evidence on negative impacts on the brain linked to air pollution.
Dementia is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, global challenges for health and social care in the 21st century.
In the study, the team reviewed the findings of more than 70 studies covering possible links between air pollution and a decline in mental ability and dementia in older people, as well as how air pollution might affect the brain.
They found the evidence base has grown substantially over the last 15 to 20 years, as the number of people living with dementia has grown to more than 900,000.
The study highlights a “strong case” for air pollution having a secondary effect on the brain, increasing the risk of heart and neurodegenerative disease.
It also details a potential direct mechanism, with small particles in the air (including PM2.5 from vehicle exhausts and other sources) entering into the bloodstream and crossing into the brain.
The team concluded that it is likely that air pollution contributes to a decline in mental ability and dementia in older people.
The findings call for a much stronger focus on understanding the mechanisms by which air pollution contributes to increased dementia risk.
The researchers highlight that while it’s not currently possible to directly measure the impact or air pollution on cognitive decline or dementia, it may be possible to develop an indirect method to quantify the effects on the brain.
The findings will inform international air quality guidelines and policy on particulate matter targets.
Future work will see the researchers collaborate with the UK Dementia Research Institute to uncover the mechanisms by which air pollution increases dementia risk.
If you care about dementia, please read studies that the bottom blood pressure number may predict your dementia risk, and how to use a healthy lifestyle to prevent dementia.
For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about blood pressure drugs that may repair blood vessels in the brain, and results showing these health issues may double your dementia risk.
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