The long-term effects of air pollution have many health effects, including accelerating brain aging and increasing the risk of dementia. New research now suggests that short-term exposure to polluted air, even at levels that are generally considered “acceptable”, can impair the mental abilities of older people.
The researchers looked at more than 954 Boston men, aged 69 and older. Men were examined at the beginning of the study անգամ several times over the next 28 days using the Mini-Mental State Examination or MMSE, a widely used cognitive test. The test includes simple questions such as “What year is it?” և “What season is it?” : Requires tasks such as counting back from 100 to seven. Answering less than 25 of his 30 questions correctly implies mild weakness.
Within a month, the researchers measured air levels known as PM 2.5, soot particles մ other small particles 2.5 microns in diameter, small enough to enter the lungs and travel through the bloodstream. There is no safe level of PM 2.5, but the Environment Agency considers air acceptable when it is less than 12 micrograms per cubic meter. During the test period, the PM level in Boston averaged 10.77.
A higher PM 2.5 was consistently associated with lower test scores. Men with the highest levels of air pollution during the week are 63 percent less likely to score less than 25 on the MMSE than during the weeks with the lowest levels. The study of aging in nature was adjusted for age, BMI, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, alcohol use, smoking, high blood pressure and other factors.
Dr. Andrea Bacarelli, a professor of environmental science at Columbia Meilman School of Public Health, said these short-term effects could be reversible. “When air pollution decreases,” he said, “the brain reloads and returns to normal.” However, if repeated, these episodes will damage the brain for a long time. “
“Some of these particles come from natural sources, such as sea salt, such as soil and pollen,” added Dr. Bakarelli. “We will never be completely free of them. But what is caused by humans is much worse. The good news is that we are at a point where we have technology to further reduce air pollution. ”
The researchers described the study as “intriguing” and found that men taking NSAIDs, aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) were partially protected from the negative cognitive effects of the contamination. They suggest that NSAIDs may reduce the inflammatory response of contaminants in the brain and nervous system.
“This is an impressive study,” said Robert M., a professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Bilder, who was not involved in the work. But, according to him, the study is observational, it is not accidental, so it does not prove the cause and the effect. Moreover, it was done only in older white men, many of whom were overweight or had a history of smoking. “Given the identified risks of other environmental hazards to the Prime Minister’s cognition, and in particular their disproportionate impact on racial-ethnic minority communities,” he said, “we urgently need research that goes beyond the study of white men.”
Dr. Bilder noted that “the study reveals a potentially potential interaction between NSAID use and ‘environmental risk.’ We need controlled clinical trials և further basic research to determine the mechanisms by which NSAIDs can work. ”
Dr. Bakarelli agreed. “I would like to do a randomized trial to see if there is any real benefit,” he said. For now, “everything that contributes to a healthy lifestyle helps protect against air pollution. A healthy diet helps. Exercise helps. “But I would not tell anyone to take aspirin to protect themselves from air pollution.”
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