New evidence indicates that an important cause of extrinsic skin aging is chronic exposure to soot and other airborne particulates generated by motor vehicle exhaust.

A strong epidemiologic association has been established between residing near a busy highway and increased skin wrinkling and pigmented spots, and a plausible biologic mechanism for causality has been established. Thus, exposure to traffic-related airborne particulate matter joins solar ultraviolet radiation and tobacco smoke as the third potentially modifiable major factor identified in extrinsic skin aging, Dr. Med. Jean Krutmann said at the 2011 World Congress of Dermatology meeting in Seoul..

Air pollution exposure proved to be related in dose-response fashion to an increase in pigmented spots on the cheeks and forehead, and to facial wrinkles. "My first major message is that nanoparticles are present in ambient air and represent a novel threat to human skin," says Krutmann, professor of dermatology and environmental health medicine at Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, Germany.

He and his coinvestigators have shown that the threat is more than skin deep. They have previously linked chronic exposure to traffic-related fine particulate polyaromatic hydrocarbons with a diverse group of other major adverse health effects in addition to skin aging.

They have shown that at one end of the life span, such exposure impairs cognitive function in the elderly; ongoing prospective studies will determine whether this exposure is also involved in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease.

The same landmark German epidemiologic study that linked airborne particle exposure to mild cognitive impairment — the "Study on the Influence of Air Pollution on Lung Function, Inflammation, and Aging" — has implicated exposure to traffic-related particulate matter with increased risk of type 2 diabetes.


[Source: Global Academy for Medical Education/Skin & Allergy News]