How living close to a street light could increase your risk of deadly disease | The Sun

LIVING close to a street light could increase your risk of deadly disease, experts have claimed.

Across the UK there are millions of street lights – with the majority of these being concentrated in major towns and cities.

In London alone there are close to 2.6million – with the capital also being one of the most polluted cities in the country.

In general, cities have more street lights than smaller towns and villages.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that other cities that have high levels of pollution include Manchester, Swansea and Leeds.

With large towns also having high levels of pollution and street lighting.

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A government research group has now found that air pollution could increase your risk of dementia.

Dementia is when mental deterioration is severe enough to interfere with someone's daily life.

It causes problems with thinking, reasoning and memory – as these are the areas in the brain that become damaged by the disease.

There are currently 944,000 people with dementia in the UK, more than ever before, and this number is projected to increase, says Alzheimer's Research UK.

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The new 291-page report, published by the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants, looked at 70 studies which analysed how exposure to emissions affect the brain over time.

Medics found that air pollution “likely” increases the risk of accelerated “cognitive decline” and of “developing dementia” in older people.

This, they say, could be down to the impact of pollutants entering the circulatory system, affecting blood flow to the brain.

The authors said: "The epidemiological evidence reviewed fairly consistently reports associations between chronic exposure to air pollution and reduced global cognition and impairment in visuospatial abilities as well as cognitive decline and increased risk of dementia.

“Results are heterogeneous as regards to other cognitive domains such as executive function, attention, memory, language and mild cognitive impairment.

“The identified neuroimaging studies consistently report associations between exposure to air pollution and white matter atrophy.”

It was previously found that women living in towns and cities could be at an increased risk of breast cancer.

What are the main symptoms of dementia?

Dementia symptoms vary depending on the cause. But common signs and symptoms include:

Cognitive changes

  • memory loss, which is usually noticed by a spouse or someone else
  • confusion and disorientation, such as not knowing the place or time

Difficulty:

  • communicating or finding words
  • following a conversation
  • with visual and spatial abilities, such as getting lost while driving
  • reasoning or problem-solving
  • handling complex tasks
  • planning and organising
  • with coordination and motor functions

Psychological changes

  • personality changes
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • inappropriate behaviour
  • paranoia
  • agitation
  • hallucinations

The symptoms specific to Alzheimer's disease include:

  • memory problems, such as regularly forgetting recent events, names and faces
  • asking questions repetitively
  • increasing difficulties with tasks and activities that require organisation and planning
  • becoming confused in unfamiliar environments
  • difficulty finding the right words
  • difficulty with numbers and/or handling money in shops
  • becoming more withdrawn or anxious

Experts said night-time exposure to light from street lamps could increase risk of the disease by 10 per cent.

Scientists at the National Cancer Institute in the US compared rates of the disease, which affects 2.1 million women across the world each year, and satellite images taken in 1996.

They looked at cases of breast cancer in women over a 16-year period, and took other controlling factors into account.

Past studies have suggested various theories as to why exposure to street lights could increase a woman's risk of the disease.

One investigation, carried out by experts at Harvard Medical School, found artificial light can upset a woman's circadian rhythm – the body's internal clock – which can disrupt natural biological processes.

The light was also found to block a protective hormone, that can help stave off the disease.

While street lights have been linked to breast cancer, pollution has also been linked to other conditions such as other respiratory conditions such as asthma.

Other health conditions associated with pollution include heart disease and lung cancer.

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The risk of heart disease is due to the fact that breathing in emissions can damage the blood vessels.

This is turn makes them narrower and harder- increasing the likelihood of clots, abnormal heart rhythms and heart attacks.

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