A new study has found that long-term exposure to air pollution may speed up brain aging. In other words, dirty air can literally, over time, eat away at your brain.
Researchers took brain scans of 1,403 women without dementia aged 71 to 89, and estimated their exposure to air pollution in the previous six to seven years based on where they lived.
They found that the brains of women who lived in places with higher air pollution had significantly reduced white matter, which enables nerves to communicate. And yes, the results remained the same even after controlling for many variables, including age, education, income, physical activity, blood pressure and BMI.
Previous research has shown that air pollution can cause damage to the vascular system, but "investigating the impact of air pollution on the human brain is a new area of environmental neurosciences," lead author Jiu-Chiuan Chen said in a press release.
So, find out how your city ranks American Lung Association's "State of the Air" report and figure out whether or not you should get the heck outta there.