Living 2.0

Living Better

Month: May 2019

The Evidence Is Strong » Air Pollution Can Cause Dementia

Aaron Reuben, writing in Mother Jones:

Of all the new research, three studies in particular paint a stark picture of the extent to which the quality of our air can determine whether we will age with our minds intact. In one from 2018, researchers followed 130,000 older adults living in London for several years. Those exposed to higher levels of air pollutants, particularly nitrogen dioxide and fine particulate matter released by fossil fuel combustion, were significantly more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease—the most common kind of dementia—than their otherwise demographically matched peers. In total, Londoners exposed to the highest levels of air pollution were about one and a half times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s across the study period than their neighbors exposed to the lowest levels—a replication of previous findings from Taiwan, where air pollution levels are much higher.

Another, a 2017 study published in the Lancet, followed all adults living in Ontario (roughly 6 and a half million people) for over a decade and found that those who lived closer to major high-traffic roads were significantly more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease across the study period regardless of their health at baseline or socioeconomic status. Both of these studies estimated that around 6 to 7 percent of all dementia cases in their samples could be attributed to air pollution exposures.

Those studies from Canada and the UK are certainly intriguing. But the most compelling, and least reported on, study comes from the United States. It was also, incidentally, inspired by our previous reporting.

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Death by Diet: Poor Diet is the World’s Biggest Killer

A new report from the Thomson Reuters Foundation states that our poor eating habits, from malnutrition to obesity, leads to millions of early deaths and could cost the global economy $30 trillion by 2030.

Poor diet has already overtaken smoking as the world’s biggest killer. One in five deaths worldwide in 2017 was linked to unhealthy diets in both poor and rich countries as burgers and soda replaced traditional diets.

Thin Lei Win writing for the Thomson Reuters Foundation:

Technology has made farming easier but government policy and climate change have slashed the foods produced by villagers which they fear is killing them when combined with the explosion in fast-food. “Now we don’t know where the oils we eat come from because we buy what’s quick and cheap and easy,” said Myint Soe, 59.

He said many people are suffering from cancer, hardening of the arteries and other ailments, likely caused by eating low-quality oil, sugary drinks, salty snacks and instant noodles.

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