Almost a fifth of Alzheimer’s cases could be caused by breathing in polluted air, experts have said – amid news that dementia is now the biggest killer in the UK.
As London far surpasses the international legal pollution limit, an MP has today warned about the hidden dangers of breathing in toxic air.
Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, chair of the health committee, said: “There is an increasing amount of evidence showing the impact of nitrogen dioxide and invisible particulates on human health.
“Many people are aware of their impact on our lungs and hearts, but new evidence suggests that they could also contribute to diseases as disparate as dementia and diabetes.”
Experts suggest that pollution can accelerate cognitive ageing, increasing the risks of several neurodegenerative diseases.
The latest figures, published by the University of Southern California, suggest that toxic particles in the atmosphere could account for around 21 per cent – or one in five – of dementia cases worldwide.
Similarly, the University found that people living within 50 meters of a major road were 12 per cent more likely to develop dementia than people living 200 meters away.
Just this week, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan triggered the capital’s “emergency air quality alert”.
This alert means that Londoners will see warnings displayed at bus stops, road signs, and on the underground.
He said anyone with known lung or heart problems is advised to reduce strenuous exercise – especially outside.