Where you live could have long-term consequences for your cognitive health, with a new study showing a link between people who live near main roads and an increased risk of dementia.
A study published in The Lancet journal this month investigated whether the environmental effect of traffic-dense roads could give rise to dementia, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. The results found that living close to heavy traffic was associated with a higher incidence of dementia but not Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis.
Between 2002 and 2012, researchers tracked 6.6 million people living in Ontario, Canada. This study cohort consisted of people aged 20 to 85 years who were free of the neurological diseases being tested. It turned out that people who lived closer to busy roads were worse off than those residing further away.
Living within 50 metres of a main road led to a seven per cent increase in the risk of dementia, living within 50 to100 metres led to a four per cent higher risk, and residing 101
Lead author of the study, Dr Hong Chen said long-term exposure to road pollutants, specifically carbon dioxide and fine particulate matter, can be linked to higher dementia rates. There has been previous research linking air pollution and traffic noise to reduced brain matter and lowered cognitive health but Chen’s study is the first to examine the connection between living close to heavy traffic and the onset of neurodegenerative diseases.
“Increasing population growth and urbanisation has 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.
“More research to understand this link is needed, particularly into the effects of different aspects of traffic, such as air pollutants and noise,” he said.
In England, air pollution is responsible for the deaths of 9500 Londoners per year, with 2016 levels of nitrogen dioxide in some areas of the city breaching EU standards, according to a Kings College study.
In Australia, dementia is on the rise, with three in 10 people over the age of 85 and close to one in 10 over 65 living with dementia.
Do you live close to a main road and feel concerned about pollution? Do the results of this study surprise you and make you think differently about where you live?
Read more at ABC.net.au
Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free
- Receive our daily enewsletter
- Enter competitions
- Comment on articles