Air pollution: the road to Alzheimer’s disease?

October 4, 2019 Off By admin

By:  Manfred Eggersdorfer, Professor for Healthy Ageing, University Medical Center Groningen

Summary

  • A new study has assessed the associations between proximity to a main road and diagnoses of dementia, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis 
  • Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, neurodegenerative disease, and the leading cause of dementia, for which there is currently no cure 
  • Research has found evidence for the role that certain nutrients, including vitamins E, C, and D, in decreasing new incidences of Alzheimer’s disease 

A newly published longitudinal study has assessed the associations between proximity to a main road and diagnoses of dementia, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.1 Data were collected from residents of Ontario, Canada, from 2001 to 2012. Results found that individuals living near heavy traffic were 12% more likely to be diagnosed with dementia in their lifetime. Air pollution is made up of a mixture of gases and particles, including particulate matter (PM). Inhaling polluted air, especially air containing fine PM of 2.5 micrometers in diameter and smaller (PM2.5), can lead to a wide range of health issues. This study supports a wide range of research that also observed the negative impacts of air pollution on brain health.2,3  

Understanding Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, neurodegenerative disease, and the leading cause of dementia, for which there is currently no cure.4 While there are a number of non-modifiable risk factors, such as genetic factors, age, and gender, this study highlights the increased risk posed by modifiable lifestyle factors. 5,6 With over 80% of the world’s population living in regions with air pollution levels higher than the World Health Organization’s air quality guidelines, air pollution is a prevalent global issue.  

Acting against Alzheimer’s with nutrients 

Research has found compelling evidence for the role that certain nutrients, including vitamins E, C, and D, in conjunction with other important factors can play in decreasing new incidences of Alzheimer’s disease.7 Increasing the intake of essential micronutrients is a simple, but effective, method of supporting cognitive performance and reducing the risk factors associated with Alzheimer’s disease, such as oxidative stress. While air pollution is a wider issue affecting the majority of the population, the dietary supplements industry can help to combat some of the negative effects on public health.