Exposure to particulate matter (PM2.5) may contribute to racial/ethnic disparities in Alzheimer’s risk, according to a new study published in The Journals of Gerontology.
This was the first study to examine race-related environmental health disparities in brain aging. The population-based study involved 481 black and 6,004 white women aged 55 to 79 who did not have dementia at the time of enrollment.
Jiu-Chiuan Chen, MD, and colleagues found in their study found that black women (14.38 ± 2.21 µg/m3) were exposed to higher levels of PM2.5 than white women (12.55 ± 2.76 µg/m3), which could explain the increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease in older black women. However, even after adjusting for risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, smoking, BMI, education, and income, the researchers found that black women still had twice the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease as white women.
The study further reported that black women were more susceptible to the negative effects of these fine environmental particles than white women. They also found that the racial differences in the various models used to measure the hazard ratio could not be explained by age, geographic region, lifestyle factor, or socioeconomic characteristics.
“These results provide new evidence for the potential role of environmental neurotoxins in the racial/ethnic disparities in AD risk and may help inform strategies aimed towards AD prevention in at-risk minority populations,” the authors write.