Thursday, August 30, 2007
Are you suffering from brain mold?
Whether you're one of those hot, exhausted people cleaning up after a flood or just fighting the good fight to keep that dark, dank film off the grout in the shower -- mold could affect your mood.
In what's being hailed as a first, a public health study led by Brown University finds a link between regular old household mold and depression.
The study included data from the World Health Organization of nearly 6,000 people in Europe.
Some of the science is intuitive - sure, if you have a moldy home, you're likely to feel out of control - and perceptions of control are linked to depression.
And yes, if you're depressed, you might not be the best housekeeper.
Exposure to mold can produce physical symptoms that are well-documented: For those with allergies, asthma or suppressed immune systems, mold can make you sick- and if you're sick from mold, that could certainly affect your mental state.
But researchers hypothesize there may be another possible pathway: mold on the brain. Molds are toxins - and researchers suspect (but haven't proven) these toxins may impede the function of the frontal cortex, that touchy-feely part of our brain that rules emotion.
As someone slightly household-chore-challenged, I wondered - just how much mold might it take to affect my mood?
It's hard to quantify, says lead researcher and Brown University epidemiologist Ed Shenassa, adding that while a little mold in the bath won't do it, the more mold your have, the more likely it is to impact emotion.
Let's be clear: What we have here is an association between mold and mood-- more research is needed to see whether mold does indeed directly cause depression.
But Shenassa says there is a clear takeaway from this study: "Healthy homes promote healthy lives." That means not letting carpets, wallpaper or ceiling tiles to get wet, and stay wet for more than 48 hours, and giving leaks in the roof, walls and plumbing the immediate attention they deserve, because they're all sources of mold.
The study appears in the October edition of the American Journal of Public Health.
Do you have mold - and has it affected your mind, and body? Tell us your story.
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