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Researchers link air pollution with dementia risk

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Farah Siddiqi

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(Ohio News Connection) Recent data ranks Columbus, Ohio, as the most polluted major city in the U.S., highlighting concerns about common pollutants, like smog and vehicle emissions.

New research links these pollutants to the risks for dementia.

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Dr. Alan Cronemberger Andrade, in the postgraduate program in neurology and neuroscience at the Federal University of Sao Paulo, said the study of more than 2,500 adults showed a need for more local research on air pollution's effect on cognitive health.

"We see that there is really evidence linking air pollution to cognitive decline and dementia risk," Cronemberger Andrade observed.

He pointed out stroke and cardiovascular diseases, such as ischemic heart disease and atrial fibrillation are other key links between air pollution and dementia, and vascular issues also contribute to the connection.

In Ohio, the most recent figures, from 2019, indicate about 591,000 people over age 45 have some form of dementia.

Dr. Fabricio Ferreira de Oliviera, executive medical director of Elysian Clinica Medica and Neurologia at the Federal University of Sao Paulo, said one component of the study looked at people's proximity to high-pollution sources.

"If they live near a highway or near a very polluted area, they can have more cognitive impairment than those who live farther from those regions," Ferreira emphasized.

He suggested conducting ongoing studies to determine if reducing air pollution could lower the risk of dementia and cognitive decline, and better overall health outcomes.