Exposure to a group of chemicals known as type-2 alkenes - which are found in the smoke inhaled from cigarettes, the exhaust of automobiles and even in French fries - can increase the chances of developing Alzheimer's disease and other neurological conditions such as Parkinson's disease, research has indicated.
"The thought process and memory deficits associated with Alzheimer's disease appear to be due to the very early loss of function of nerve endings in the brain," said Richard M. LoPachin, a neurochemist and director of research in the Department of Anesthesiology at Montefiore Medical Center and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
According to LoPachin, this excess means that these highly toxic chemicals are also being generated within nerve endings during the disease process that presumably initiates Alzheimer's dementia.
LoPachin believes that this internal production of the type-2 alkenes, along with external exposure to these chemicals (smoking, diet and other environmental factors), causes a perfect neurological storm - a doubly powerful type-2 alkene attack on brain nerve endings from outside the body and from with-in.
"This dual intoxication of nerve endings led us to conclude that daily environmental exposure to neurotoxic type-2 alkenes could increase the incidence of Alzheimer's disease," he added.
The research has been published in a Journal of Neurochemistry.