A study published in the online journal Neurology examined more than 700 women in late-adulthood, concluding that prolonged exposure to air pollution could result in brain shrinkage patterns often observed in patients with dementia.
The study was conducted by the American Academy of Neurology and began with evaluating the female participants, all of which were at or around the age of 78 and had no prior history of cognitive decline. Their medical history was assessed, along with information on their educational attainment, employment, substance use, and physical activity.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies were initiated at the beginning of the study and several years later.
Throughout the study, a portion of the participants was slightly exposed to a particular amount of fine particle pollution, while another group was extensively exposed to pollution.
Using a digitalized tool as part of machine learning, indicators of Alzheimer’s disease could be identified, including patterns of brain shrinkage associated with patients suffering from the disease.
The results uncovered significant health complications that are purported to have resulted from exposure to higher levels of air pollution.
According to researchers, brain shrinkage observed in a substantial number of female participants was correlated with extensive exposure to air pollution.
“While more research is needed, federal efforts to tighten air pollution exposure standards in the future may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in our older populations,” said co-author Diana Younan in a news release.
The study, released November 18th, 2020, received support from the National Institute on Aging.