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Air Pollution Raises Risk for Dementia, Even at ‘Safe’ Levels, Study Shows
The evidence continues to build that breathing dirty air is bad for your brain.
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Neurology Monday found that residents in Stockholm, Sweden who were exposed to relatively low levels of air pollution were at greater risk for dementia, especially if they also suffered from heart disease.
"Our findings suggest air pollution does play a role in the development of dementia, and mainly through the intermediate step of cardiovascular disease and especially stroke," lead study author Giulia Grande, a researcher at the Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society at Karolinska Institutet, said in a press release.
Several studies have found associations between exposure to particulate matter pollution and brain disorders such as dementia, cancers and neurodegenerative disorders, and depression and suicide. There is evidence that particulate matter can enter the brain directly via the nose and the bloodstream; however, this study focused more on how air pollution exposure interacted with both heart and brain health.
While previous studies have suggested both cardiovascular disease and air pollution exposure are correlated with dementia risk, this is the first to consider the three together, CNN reported.
The researchers followed nearly 3,000 Stockholm adults with an average age of 74 for as many as 11 years. They found that long-term exposure to air pollution increased dementia risk, but that risk went up significantly if the individual suffered from stroke. Almost 50 percent of the dementia cases linked to air pollution exposure were explained by stroke.
Further, the researchers noted that the study participants were living in the Kungsholmen district in central Stockholm, where pollution levels are safely below the international limit.
Tracking their exposure over a 20 year period, the researchers found that a person's dementia risk increased by more than 50 percent with every 0.88 micrograms-per-cubic-meter particulate matter increase and by more than 10 percent with every 8.35 microgram-per-cubic meter increase in nitrogen oxide, UPI reported.
Grande told UPI that the results suggested a need for higher pollution standards.
"Our results derive from a central area of Stockholm, where the control of environmental air pollution has been increasingly strict in the last decades," Grande said. "Interestingly, the higher limit that we reported is not only below the current European limit for fine particulate matter but also below the U.S. standard. In other words, we were able to establish harmful effects at levels below current standards. Next time air quality standards are revised, this risk should also be considered."
- Air Pollution Allowed by the EPA Kills 200,000 per Year - EcoWatch ›
- Does Air Pollution Increase Depression and Suicide? - EcoWatch ›
- New Study Links Air Pollution to Dementia - EcoWatch ›
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'How Dare You Put Our Lives at Risk': Pennsylvania Democrat Brian Sims Rips GOP Members for 'Coverup' of Positive COVID-19 Tests
Brian Sims, a Democratic representative in the Pennsylvania legislature, ranted in a Facebook Live video that went viral about the hypocrisy of Republican lawmakers who are pushing to reopen the state even though one of their members had a positive COVID-19 test.
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By Linda Lacina
World Health Organization officials today announced the launch of the WHO Foundation, a legally separate body that will help expand the agency's donor base and allow it to take donations from the general public.
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Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
By Nicholas Joyce
The coronavirus has resulted in stress, anxiety and fear – symptoms that might motivate a person to see a therapist. Because of social distancing, however, in-person sessions are less possible. For many, this has raised the prospect of online therapy. For clients in need of warmth and reassurance, could this work? Studies and my experience suggests it does.
Telehealth Versus Traditional Therapy<p><a href="https://www.cigna.com/hcpemails/telehealth/telehealth-flyer.pdf" target="_blank">Private insurance companies</a> like Cigna and Aetna, have come around; they now provide coverage for what they see as a "legitimate" service. And <a href="https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/american-wells-2019-consumer-survey-finds-majority-of-consumers-open-to-telehealth-adoption-continues-to-grow-300906438.html" target="_blank">surveys show</a> consumers are receptive to telehealth counseling: no driving to an appointment, no searching for a parking space, no worries about childcare while they're away, no need to switch providers if they move, and no problem if the specialist happens to be far away.</p><p>Online therapy opens doors for clients who wouldn't otherwise seek help, <a href="https://www.worldcat.org/title/empirical-examination-of-the-influence-of-personality-gender-role-conflict-and-self-stigma-on-attitudes-and-intentions-to-seek-online-counseling-in-college-students/oclc/941976505" target="_blank">particularly patients</a> who feel stigmatized by therapy or intimidated by a stranger sitting across the room from them. Often, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1089/1094931041291295" target="_blank">people open up</a> more easily in telehealth sessions. Firsthand accounts have detailed <a href="https://www.romper.com/p/i-tried-online-therapy-for-a-month-this-is-what-happened-13630" target="_blank">positive experiences from consumers</a>.</p>
Overcoming Prejudices About Online Counseling<p>Now COVID-19 is forcing most traditional psychotherapists to adapt their practice to <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/expressive-trauma-integration/202003/covid-19-etherapy-in-times-isolation" target="_blank">online counseling</a>. After experiencing the medium, they are <a href="https://www.wecounsel.com/blog/why-every-therapist-in-private-practice-needs-a-telehealth-option/" target="_blank">overcoming their prejudices</a>. Many will convert some or all of their caseloads to telehealth after the pandemic ends. Most of our clients seem to be good with it: responding to a satisfaction survey, 85% of USF students strongly or somewhat agreed their telehealth experience was comparable to an in-person visit.</p><p>All this allows a continuity of care for clients that before was impossible; there is, however, a caveat. Because of the coronavirus, some of my clients at USF who live out-of-state have moved back home. That means, legally, I can no longer serve them. Even though they are still USF students, my license is valid only in Florida.</p><p>For telehealth to work effectively, our national system of licensing and regulation law needs to adapt. Although the federal government temporarily halted HIPAA regulations to promote telehealth during this time, not all states are allowing out-of-state practice. The coronavirus may not be here forever, but spring break and Christmas holidays always will. We need seamless telehealth across state lines.</p>
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As many parts of the planet continue to open their doors after pandemic closures, a new pest is expected to make its way into the world. After spending more than a decade underground, millions of cicadas are expected to emerge in regions of the southeastern U.S.