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Does air pollution lead to cognitive decline in women?

Does air pollution lead to cognitive decline in women?
14th February 2012

Women have a greater chance of cognitive decline if exposed to air pollutants, according to a new study.

Researchers at Rush University Medical Centre found that chronic exposure to particular chemical could accelerate cognitive decline in older adults, specifically women exposed to higher levels of ambient particulate matter (PM).

Long-term contact with pollutants can have effects on a person's cognitive ability over a four-year period, which may lead to dementia, it was found when investigating the affects of both coarse and fine PM.

This is the first study to test whether exposure to the size of particles is important to cognitive decline in older women.

Professor Jennifer Weuve, principal investigator on the study, commented: "Unlike other factors that may be involved in dementia such as diet and physical activity, air pollution is something we can intervene on as a society at large through policy, regulation and technology."

If these finding are confirmed in other research, institutions could decrease the rate of dementia by promoting clean air.

Air pollutants are already believed to increase the risk of stroke and blood clots, making a clear argument for measures to be taken to reduce levels of contamination.

Find out about dementia care and support services at Barchester care homes.