Air pollution may be linked to a heightened risk of dementia

Brendon Thorne/Getty Images
  • A study has found a possible link between air pollution and dementia.
  • The London-based observational research found the link couldn’t be explained by known factors.
  • The research is published in the online journal BMJ Open.

Air pollution may be linked to a heightened risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, according to a London-based observational study published in the online journal BMJ Open.

The link couldn’t be explained by factors known to influence the risks of developing the condition, say the researchers.

Air pollution is now an established risk factor for heart disease/stroke and respiratory disease, but its potential role in neurodegenerative diseases, such as dementia, isn’t clear.

The researchers used estimates of air and noise pollution levels across Greater London to assess potential links with new dementia diagnoses.

This is an observational study and can’t establish cause and the findings may also be only applicable to London.

“Traffic related air pollution has been linked to poorer cognitive development in young children, and continued significant exposure may produce neuroinflammation and altered brain innate immune responses in early adulthood,” the researchers say.

In Australia, there are about 425,416 people living with dementia. It is the second leading cause of death of Australians and in 2018 is estimated to cost Australia more than $15 billion. About 250 people are joining the population with dementia each day.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.