A new study finds a link between environmental air pollution and occurrences of both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
Tiny air pollution particles make their way up to the brainstems of young people where they accumulate, new research published in the journal Environmental Research showed. These same nanoparticles have been “intimately associated” with the molecular damage that serves as a hallmark for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, The Guardian reported. That linkage could have global implications if confirmed because 90% of people currently live with toxic outdoor air, another Guardian article reported.
In addition to the high presence of particulate matter, the brainstems also showed signs of early and progressive neurovascular nerve damage, First Post reported. The way these particles reacted with brain cells could increase oxidative stress and eventually lead to death of neurons, the report said.
While Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s share some superficial symptoms, the mechanisms underpinning both illnesses are quite different. A study showing a single factor contributing to both is, therefore, a big deal. As with most of these studies we highlight, it’s early in the scientific process, and we shouldn’t draw too many conclusions from a single (albeit quite large) study. But it could impact decisions made down the road for all of us.
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