Study finds association between air pollution and cognitive decline in women

February 13, 2012, Rush University Medical Center

A large, prospective study led by a researcher at Rush University Medical Center indicates that chronic exposure to particulate air pollution may accelerate cognitive decline in older adults. The results of the study will be published in the Feb. 13 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

In the study, women who were exposed to higher levels of ambient particulate matter (PM) over the long term experienced more decline in their over a four-year period. Higher levels of long-term exposure to both coarse PM (PM2.5-10) and fine PM (PM2.5) were associated with significantly faster .

PM air pollution consists of small particles suspended in the air. Particles that are less than 2.5 microns in diameter, which is 1/30th the width of human hair, are called fine PM and particles larger than 2.5-10 microns is called coarse PM.

These associations were present at levels of PM exposure typical in many areas of the United States.

There are few recent studies that analyze air pollution and cognitive function in , but this is the first study to examine change in cognitive function over a period of time and whether exposure to the size of particulate matter is important.

Jennifer Weuve, MPH., ScD, assistant professor of the Rush Institute of Healthy Aging and the principal investigator of the study, along with her colleagues, evaluated air pollution, both coarse and fine, in relation to cognitive decline in older women using a study population from the Nurses' Cognitive Cohort, which included 19,409 U.S. women ages 70 to 81 for a 14-year period going back as far as 1988.

"Our study explored chronic exposure to particulate air pollution in relation to decline in cognitive functioning among older women," said Weuve. "Very is little known about the role of exposure and its association with cognitive decline."

Exposure to particulate air pollution is associated with , which itself may play a role in causing or accelerating cognitive decline.

"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," said Weuve.

"Therefore, if our findings are confirmed in other research, air pollution reduction is a potential means for reducing the future population burden of age-related cognitive decline, and eventually, dementia," said Weuve.

Explore further: Study finds air pollution linked to diabetes and hypertension in African-American women

Related Stories

Study finds air pollution linked to diabetes and hypertension in African-American women

January 5, 2012
(Boston) -The incidence of type 2 diabetes and hypertension increases with cumulative levels of exposure to nitrogen oxides, according to a new study led by researchers from the Slone Epidemiology Center (SEC) at Boston University. ...

Recommended for you

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.