Air Pollution & Alzheimer's

In case you didn’t know, black women are at double the risk of white women for developing Alzheimer’s. Now, researchers believe they’ve found one reason why. A team at USC’s Keck School of Medicine has evidence that air pollution is the trigger for the neurodegenerative disease now afflicting at least 50 million people worldwide.

After crunching the numbers and accounting for risk factors like smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity, the USC team linked fine air particles (known as PM2.5) to dementia cases among black women living in neighborhoods with high rates of air pollution. Researchers said they hope these new findings remind us to be aware of "environmental racism and its impact on brain aging."

What researchers don’t yet understand is why black women seem more susceptible to the effects of air pollution. USC scientists plan to look for that answer as they study other factors like brain function and nutrition. The team is also urging the government to enforce protections in the Clean Air Act.

This report comes on the heels of a study funded by the Alzheimer’s Association. It shows the reducing levels of PM2.5 over 10 years improved brain function for all women aged 74 to 92.

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