Saturday December 7, 2019

Unstable Income may have Influence on Brain Health

Our results provide evidence that higher income volatility during peak earning years are associated with worse brain aging in middle age

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Income, Brain, Health
Income volatility is at a record level since the early 1980s and there is growing evidence that it may have pervasive effects on health. Pixabay

Researchers have warned that young adults who experience annual income drops of 25 per cent or more may be more at risk of having thinking problems and reduced brain health in middle age.

There may be several explanations as to why an unstable income may have an influence on brain health.

People with a lower or unstable income may have reduced access to high-quality health care which may result in worse management of diseases like diabetes, or management of unhealthy behaviours such as smoking and drinking.

“Income volatility is at a record level since the early 1980s and there is growing evidence that it may have pervasive effects on health,” said study senior author Adina Zeki Al Hazzouri, assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health.

Income, Brain, Health
There may be several explanations as to why an unstable income may have an influence on brain health. Pixabay

“Our results provide evidence that higher income volatility during peak earning years are associated with worse brain aging in middle age,” Hazzouri added.

The study involved 3,287 people who were 23 to 35 years old at the start of the study. Participants reported their annual pre-tax household income every three to five years for 20 years, from 1990 to 2010.

Researchers examined how often income dropped as well as the percentage of change in income between 1990 and 2010 for each participant.

Based on the number of income drops, participants fell into three groups: 1,780 people who did not have an income drop; 1,108 who had one drop of 25 per cent or more from the previous reported income; and 399 people who had two or more such drops.

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Participants were given thinking and memory tests that measured how well they completed tasks and how much time it took to complete them.

Researchers found that people with two or more income drops had worse performances in completing tasks than people with no income drops. On average, they scored worse by 3.74 points or 2.8 per cent.

“For reference, this poor performance is greater than what is normally seen due to one year in ageing, which is equivalent to scoring worse by only 0.71 points on average or 0.53 per cent,” said first author Leslie Grasset of the Inserm Research Center in Bordeaux, France.

Participants with more income drops also scored worse on how much time it took to complete some tasks.

Income, Brain, Health
People with a lower or unstable income may have reduced access to high-quality health care which may result in worse management of diseases like diabetes, or management of unhealthy behaviours such as smoking and drinking. Pixabay

Of the study group, 707 participants also had brain scans with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at the beginning of the study and 20 years later to measure their total brain volume as well as the volumes of various areas of the brain.

Researchers found when compared to people with no income drops, people with two or more income drops had smaller total brain volume.

People with one or more income drops also had reduced connectivity in the brain, meaning there were fewer connections between different areas of the brain.

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“While the study does not prove that drops in income cause reduced brain health, it does reinforce the need for additional studies examining the role that social and financial factors play in brain ageing,” said researchers in a paper published in the journal Neurology. (IANS)

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Reduction in Air Pollution May Increase Life-Expectancy: Study

Findings of a Research indicate almost immediate and substantial effects on health outcomes followed reduced exposure to air pollution

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Pollution
Fortunately, reducing air Pollution can result in prompt and substantial health gains. Pixabay

Reductions in Air Pollution yielded fast and dramatic impacts on health-outcomes, as well as decreases in all-cause morbidity, a new study suggests.

The study, published in the journal Annals of the American Thoracic Society, reviewed interventions that have reduced air pollution at its source. It looked for outcomes and time to achieve those outcomes in several settings, finding that the improvements in health were striking.

Starting at week one of a ban on smoking in Ireland, for example, there was a 13 per cent drop in all-cause mortality, a 26 per cent reduction in ischemic heart disease, a 32 per cent reduction in stroke, and a 38 per cent reduction in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Interestingly, the greatest benefits in that case occurred among non-smokers.

“We knew there were benefits from pollution control, but the magnitude and relatively short time duration to accomplish them were impressive,” said lead author Dean Schraufnagel from the American Thoracic Society in the US.

“Our findings indicate almost immediate and substantial effects on health outcomes followed reduced exposure to air pollution. It’s critical that governments adopt and enforce WHO guidelines for air pollution immediately,” Schraufnagel added.

Pollution
Reductions in Air Pollution yielded fast and dramatic impacts on health-outcomes, as well as decreases in all-cause morbidity, a new study suggests. Pixabay

According to the researchers, In the US a 13-month closure of a steel mill in Utah resulted in reducing hospitalisations for pneumonia, pleurisy, bronchitis and asthma by half.

School absenteeism decreased by 40 per cent, and daily mortality fell by 16 per cent for every 100 µg/m3 PM10 (a pollutant) decrease.

Women who were pregnant during the mill closing were less likely to have premature births.

A 17-day ‘transportation strategy,’ in Atlanta, Georgia during the 1996 Olympic Games involved closing parts of the city to help athletes make it to their events on time, but also greatly decreased air pollution.

In the following four weeks, children’s visits for asthma to clinics dropped by more than 40 per cent and trips to emergency departments by 11 per cent. Hospitalizations for asthma decreased by 19 per cent.

WHO
Findings of the Study indicate almost immediate and substantial effects on health outcomes followed reduced exposure to air pollution. It’s critical that governments adopt and enforce WHO guidelines for air pollution immediately. Wikimedia Commons

Similarly, when China imposed factory and travel restrictions for the Beijing Olympics, lung function improved within two months, with fewer asthma-related physician visits and less cardiovascular mortality.

“Fortunately, reducing air pollution can result in prompt and substantial health gains. Sweeping policies affecting a whole country can reduce all-cause mortality within weeks,” Schraufnagel said.

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Local programmes, such as reducing traffic, have also promptly improved many health measures, said the study. (IANS)