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Air-Pollution Linked To Alzheimer’s Disease In Older Women

USC Researchers found that older women who live in areas with high levels of air pollution are more likely to suffer brain shrinkage

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LOS ANGELES, CA — A study released Wednesday by USC researchers found that older women who live in areas with high levels of air pollution may have more Alzheimer’s-like brain shrinkage than those who live in places with cleaner air.

“Over the last few years, the clinical neurology community has recognized late-life exposure to fine particles as an environmental risk factor for dementias including Alzheimer’s disease, but whether air pollution alters different brain structures that may increase an individual’s dementia risk is still being researched,” said the study’s lead author, Diana Younan.

“Our study found that women in their 70s and 80s who were exposed to higher levels of PM2.5 (fine particulate pollution) outdoors were more likely to have the pattern of brain atrophy that would increase their risk for Alzheimer’s disease over five years,” said Younan, who is a senior research associate in the department of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

The study — published in the online issue of Neurology — involved 712 women with an average age of 78 who did not have dementia at the start of the study. They received MRI brain scans at the start of the study and then again five years later.

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