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Study: Link Between Pollen, Suicide Rates

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File photo of a woman suffering from hay fever. (credit: Martin Leigh/Getty Images)

File photo of a woman suffering from hay fever. (credit: Martin Leigh/Getty Images)

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ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta) – According to a study, pollen is a potential explanation for the seasonal effects on suicide rates.

Researchers from Aarhus University have identified an apparent correlation between the number of suicides in Denmark and the amount of pollen in the air.

“We were excited to see the positive results,” Ping Qin, an associate professor at the National Center for Register-based Research and lead author of the study, told the Copenhagen Post. “But it is also important to note that, although we found a statistically significant correlation between the amount of pollen and the number of suicides in the population, the effect was not huge.”

Qin went on to say in the study that “the effect of pollen was found to be the strongest on people who already had mood disorders or who have been previously diagnosed with depression.”

Researchers were not able to find the exact cause of the apparent phenomenon but suggest that pollen might trigger an allergic inflammatory condition; that condition then sets in motion signaling molecules called cytokines, which affect people who are prone to mood swings.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that the suicide rate among people ages 45 to 54 have continued to rise. Since 2001, this age group has had the highest rates. The rates among 25 to 34 and 35 to 44 year olds have increased more slowly.

The study was published in the journal BMJ Open.

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