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Bad air can make you crazy

Bad air can make you crazy

There is a relationship between air pollution and the risk of dementia. A new study from Umeå University shows that people with a certain genetic variant are at an additional risk.

Previous research has shown that there is a link between air pollution and dementia risk. In a new thesis on Umeå University Knowledge of what that connection looks like is now being deepened.

Dementia costs society a lot

The study examines whether traffic noise, the sense of smell and a genetic risk factor for dementia could play a role.

“Dementia is a common disease that not only costs society a lot of money, but also causes a lot of human suffering. The number of people with dementia will increase because our life expectancy is increasing.” John Anderson.

“Moreover, the proportion of the world’s population living in cities is increasing, and thus exposed to higher levels of air pollution. Therefore, it is also important to study the links between pollution and dementia.”

Air pollution versus dementia

In his research, John Andersson used data from the Betula Project, a large study on aging and health that has been ongoing in Umeå since 1988.
It also started from models describing the levels of small particles and traffic noise over Umeå and the surrounding areas.

The results show that long-term exposure to higher levels of air pollution, both nitrogen oxides and small particles, is associated with an increased risk of dementia even at the relatively low levels found in Omeo.

Noise does not affect

“Simply put, you can say that a person living in one of the most polluted areas of Umeå has about a 40 percent greater risk of developing dementia compared to someone in one of the least polluted areas, which is consistent with previous research,” says John Anderson. .

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The results also show that traffic noise did not appear to contribute to an increased risk of dementia, and that exposure to air pollution was not associated with an impaired sense of smell.

“It is important here to note that we cannot comment on whether these results also apply to areas with higher levels of air pollution. I looked at Umeå in my research, a city with relatively good air quality,” says Anderson.

Studded tires affect

John Anderson points out that the results should not be interpreted to mean that everyone carrying the relevant genetic variant, APOE-e4, should move out of town.
Instead, the results should be seen as another argument that vehicle traffic should be reduced in urban environments, even in a relatively small city like Umeå, he believes.

“Unfortunately, it is not enough to replace gasoline-powered cars with electric cars. The particulate matter that leads to harmful effects on the brain comes largely from road wear, especially when we drive with studded tires in winter,” Anderson says.

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