MEXICO CITY, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- Air pollution may be a risk factor for getting Alzheimer's, according to a scientist at Mexico's National Autonomous University (UNAM).
Clorinda Arias Alvarez, from UNAM's Biomedical Research Institute, highlighted a new study on the brains of some 30 people who lived and died in Mexico City, which revealed the presence of magnetite, an iron oxide released into the air from burning fuel.
In a press release issued on Tuesday, Arias said the study, carried out by the University of Lancaster, in England, "is an important discovery, because it showed that the nanoparticles of magnetite found in the brain come from motor vehicles, they go into the atmosphere and enter the body when they are inhaled through the nose."
Those particles could contribute to the progressive disease that destroys memory and eventually other important brain functions.
Other risk factors for Alzheimer's are believed to be fatty or sugary foods, and a sedentary lifestyle, Arias said.
A protien known as beta-amyloid has been identified as causing the stiff plaques in the brain of Alzheimer's patients.
"We don't know what creates them, but we do know that beta-amyloid increases with foods rich in fat and sugar. Now this finding invites us to study the factor of environmental pollution," said Arias.
"To avoid Alzheimer's, one has to eat healthy, with a diet low in sugar and fat, exercise, and now live in an environment without so much pollution," she said.