People who are exposed to UV light, which can disrupt the immune system and lead to cancer, could be at risk for developing dementia, a new study suggests.
Researchers from the University of Queensland looked at the brains of 5,400 people, ages 11 to 49, who had been exposed to a variety of wavelengths of light from UV-B to UVA-B.
“We looked at whether the brain could be damaged in people exposed to more UV radiation than what’s recommended for children,” said Professor David Schoenberg, the study’s lead author.
“These are very young people who are susceptible to UV radiation, so we think that exposure to more than the recommended exposure level might be damaging to the developing brain.”
The study found that children who were exposed to between 400 and 1,000 micro-sieverts per hour (1,000,000 milliSieverts) of UV-A, which is 10 times more than that recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), were found to have significantly lower levels of a protein called Tau, which plays a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Tau, an enzyme, is a precursor to a protein, amyloid beta, that accumulates in the brains and contributes to the formation of amyloids, which accumulate in the plaques that accumulate in dementia.
Tau is one of the key molecules in Alzheimer’s protein plaques, which contribute to the development and progression of the disease.
“This study suggests that the same levels of Tau are important in developing dementia,” Professor Schoenberger said.
“It’s an important finding that should be translated into a new vaccine.”
The findings suggest that children exposed to UB light might have lower levels than adults because of the more efficient use of light.
“The way people use UV light is different in children and adults, and they are much more exposed to it,” he said.
Professor Schenberg and his team also looked at people who had received a flu shot.
They found that those who had not been vaccinated were at a much higher risk for dementia than people who received the flu shot but did not receive treatment for the disease, such as cognitive therapy.
The study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer`s Disease.
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