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Living Near Busy Roads Could Increase Risk of Dementia


Living Near Busy Roads Could Increase Risk of DementiaPeople who live near busy roads have higher rates of dementia, suggesting that traffic can have an impact on our mental health, according to research recently published in the Lancet.

In fact, the research suggests that as many as 11% of dementia cases in people living within 50 metres of a busy road could be down to traffic.

For the study, the researchers followed 2 million people in the Canadian province of Ontario over an 11-year period. They found that both noisy traffic and air pollution could be contributing to people's brain decline.

UK dementia experts have called the findings "plausible", but also said more research is needed to further investigate any potential link.

Over the course of the study, 243,611 cases of dementia were diagnosed. However, the risk was greater for those living near major roads.

Compared with people living 300m away from a major road the risk was:

  • 7% higher within 50m

  • 4% higher between 50-100m

  • 2% higher between 101-200m

Dr Hong Chen, from Public Health Ontario and one of the report authors, said: "Increasing population growth and urbanisation have placed many people close to heavy traffic, and with widespread exposure to traffic and growing rates of dementia, even a modest effect from near-road exposure could pose a large public health burden."

Dementia is thought to affect around 50 million people worldwide. However, its causes are still not understood.