Health scare of the week
Most people know that breathing in air pollution is bad for their lungs, but new research suggests fine particulate matter from cars, trucks and factories could also have long-term effects on the brain. Over time, exposure to levels of air pollution typically found in urban and suburban areas could actually shrink the brain by 0.32 percent – the equivalent of about one year of aging, the study of 943 healthy older adults found. The findings don’t prove that air pollution directly causes brain changes, but researchers theorize it may cause inflammation in brain tissues. Living in smog-dense areas was also linked to a 46 percent increase in the risk for “silent strokes”, which are associated with cognitive decline and dementia. “long-term exposure to air pollution showed harmful effects on the brain even at low levels”, study author Elissa Wilker tells ScienceTimes.com. Nearly 60 percent of Americans live in areas with damaging air pollution, says the American Lung Association.