New research shows connection between air pollution and dementia

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Tonight we took a look at air pollution and dementia as part of our monthly AARP sponsored segment that highlights issues important to older adults in Arizona. A recent study has found a possible link between lowering exposure to air pollution and reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s. We talked about it with Claire Day, Chief Program Officer with the Alzheimer’s Association.

Day said that previous research has already touched on the connection between long-term exposure to air pollution and dementia. This new research, instead, targets what happens when air pollution is improved and what the outcome is then.

“What these studies show us is that improving air quality was also just as much of an impact as getting away from bad air quality,” Day said. One of the studies, targeted towards American women ages 74-92, looked at simply improving their air quality. The women in the study were examined over ten years in a form of research called “latitudinal” studies. Within that ten year period, there was a 14-26% reduction in dementia risk for those who had a reduction in certain air pollutants.

“So for those who had the better air quality, they were at 14 to 26% lower risk of developing dementia.”

Another study, looking at French adults with nearly 7,000 participants, found similar results with the fine particulates related to air pollution. This study also enacted a longitudinal approach and again found about a 15% decrease in risk.

Claire Day, Chief Program Officer, Alzheimer's Association

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