Rachel Fieldhouse

Mind

Traffic noise could increase your risk of dementia

Traffic noise could increase your risk of dementia

The amount of noise a person is exposed to from road and railway traffic could affect their risk of developing dementia, according to international research.

A team from Denmark has investigated the connection between long-term residential exposure to road traffic and railway noise and dementia risk among two million adults over the age of 60 living in Denmark between 2004 and 2017.

To do this, they estimated the level of road traffic and railway noise at the most and least exposed sides of every residential address in Denmark.

Then, they analysed national health registers in search of all cases of all-cause dementia and different types, including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, and Parkinson’s disease related dementia.

After taking other potentially influential factors into account, the team found that an average of 10 years exposure to noise was associated with a higher risk of dementia.

They also found that both road and railway noise were associated with a higher risk of Alzheimer’s, with a 27 percent increase for exposure to road traffic noise of 55 decibels and a 24 percent increase for exposure to railway noise of 50 decibels.

But, they found that the increased risk of vascular dementia was only associated with road traffic noise.

The researchers note that the study is observational and doesn’t include information about how lifestyle habits could have played a part in participants’ risks of developing dementia.

They conclude: “If these findings are confirmed in future studies, they might have a large effect on the estimation of the burden of disease and healthcare costs attributed to transportation noise.

“Expanding our knowledge of the harmful effects of noise on health is essential for setting priorities and implementing effective policies and public health strategies focused on the prevention and control of diseases, including dementia.”

The researchers estimate that as many as 14 percent of the 8,475 cases of dementia in Denmark in 2017 could be attributed to transportation noise exposure.

Transportation noise has been previously linked to several other health conditions, including coronary heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.

The study was published in the journal The BMJ.

Image: Getty Images

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