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August 19, 2015

Study: Pollution may be behind rise, earlier onset of dementia

According to the study, 'environmental factors must play a major part, not just aging'

Air pollution may literally be making our memories cloudier.  

A recent longitudinal study published in Surgical Neurology International suggests heightened levels of pollution and insecticides in the environment may be causing people to develop neurological conditions like dementia and Alzheimer's disease, both earlier in life and at a higher rate than ever before. 

According to the study, which looked at patients in 21 countries between 1989 and 2010, American men over the age of 75 are now three times more likely, and women five times more likely, to die from neurological diseases than they were 20 years ago. 

Additionally, people in their late 40s and early 50s are now regularly being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, "something unthinkable twenty years ago," accoording to Bournemouth University professor and lead study author Colin Pritchard.

The researchers also found that for the first time since records began, more elderly U.S. women died of brain disease than cancer.

"The rate of increase in such a short time suggests a silent or even a 'hidden' epidemic, in which environmental factors must play a major part, not just aging," Pritchard told Science Daily. 

Read more on the study here.

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