Living in a crowded city or near a busy highway may be tied to a higher chance of having a stroke or losing your memory, new research suggests. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found a higher risk of stroke after moderate compared to good air quality days in Boston-area residents, especially when traffic-related pollution was high. And another report in the same journal documented a faster long-term decline in thinking and memory skills in women living in higher-pollution areas of the United States. Genevra Pittman, Los Angeles Times February 13, 2012.
Blood vessels dilate and constrict in response to the outside environment in an attempt to keep blood pressure constant. But air pollution might affect the body’s ability to regulate blood pressure . . . [this] effect could explain why over a longer period of time, being exposed to air pollution might be associated with declining thinking and memory skills. The blood flow to the brain is incredibly important for cognitive function. There may be effects [of air pollution]…on blood flow to the brain that we’re not yet aware of that could be affecting cognitive function. George Wellenius, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at Brown University.
Exposure to pollutants in secondhand smoke was found to be linked to a 39 percent higher risk of dementia in Chinese women. – Genevra Pittman, Los Angeles Times February 13, 2012.
Researchers in Chicago analyzed a series of cognitive tests given to close to 20,000 women, mostly in their 70s, and also estimated the air pollution around their homes through the EPA’s monitoring system. They found that more air pollution was tied to faster rates of cognitive decline. – Jennifer Weuve, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL.