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2016 Grants - Nguyen
Cognitive Impairment and Vietnamese Female Nail Technicians
Thuc-Nhi Nguyen, Ph.D.
University of California, Davis
2016 Alzheimer’s Association Clinical Fellowship (AACF)
Does exposure to toxic chemicals in nail care products increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease?
While some studies have suggested that exposure to certain chemicals may increase the risk for cognitive problems, there is not enough evidence to understand this relationship. One industry in which individuals are exposed to toxic chemicals is nail care. Nail technicians work with numerous chemical substances (including formaldehyde and various acids) that have been associated with increased risk for cancer, reproductive problems and skin/respiratory allergies. It is not yet known if these chemicals may impact cognitive decline or Alzheimer’s disease.
Thuc-Nhi Nguyen, Ph.D., and colleagues have planned a study to examine if chemical exposure may lead to declines in cognition and risk for Alzheimer’s disease among Vietnamese-American nail technicians who make up a large part of the nail care industry (~80%) in northern California. The study participants will include 150 nail care technicians and 150 of their siblings who are not in the nail care industry. The researchers will determine each individual’s level of exposure to neurotoxic chemicals and relate this to changes in memory, attention and other cognitive functions. They will also measure symptoms of depression and anxiety in the participants.
The results of this effort will help address a gap in the knowledge of cognitive health risks in an understudied population. Ultimately this work could increase awareness and identify interventions to reduce or modify exposure to these chemicals and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.