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Air pollution contributes to cognitive decline and Dementia

Researchers say that physical activity may contribute to mitigating the risk of the cognitive decline associated with air pollution.



A new study from Denmark has revealed that long-term exposure to  air pollution promotes inflammation in the brain, accelerating cognitive decline and increasing the risk of dementia.

The study is the first of its kind in Demark, following a cohort of nurses for 27 years, from 1993 until 2020.

While the impact of air pollution on respiratory and cardiovascular systems is well known, the findings confirm that air pollution also has a major impact on our brains.

Professor at Section of Environmental Health Zorana Jovanovic Andersen, commented: “We also find association with noise, but this seems to be explained by air pollution primarily. Our study is in line with growing international knowledge on this topic.

“This is the first study in Denmark showing a link between air pollution and dementia. Although air pollution levels in Denmark have been declining and are relatively low, compared of the rest of Europe and world, this study shows that there are still significant and concerning health effects that demand more action and policies towards reduction of air pollution.

“As we are going to live longer, and more and more people will be diagnosed with dementia, this finding is important as it offer an opportunity to prevent new dementia cases, and ensure more healthy aging, by cleaning up the air we breathe.”

“This is internationally unique and necessary in regards of the development of dementia which can take many years. Second, the air pollution was estimated for each participant for a total of 41 years, which is also incredible. Third, we had extensive details about participant’s lifestyle and socio-economics and all our result take them in consideration. The novelty of this study is the very detailed and accurate data that we used,” added Research Assistant from the Section of Environmental Health Stéphane Tuffier.

“Nurses with higher physical activity had a lower risk of dementia when exposed to air pollution compared to nurses with less physical activity. This indicates that physical activity might mitigate the adverse effects of air pollution on cognitive decline and risk of dementia,” Tuffier says.

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