People who live near busy roads have higher rates of dementia, a new study has confirmed.
Researchers, which followed almost two million people in Canada over 11 years, found that as many as 11 per cent of dementia cases in people living within 50 meters of a major road could be down to traffic.
They suspect that air pollution or noisy traffic could be contributing to the development of the condition, although they do admit that the results need probing.
The researchers identified 243,611 cases of dementia over an 11 year period, but in 11 per cent of those cases there was just one major aspect in common – living close to a busy road.
Compared to those living at least 300 meters away from a major road, the risk of developing dementia was seven per cent higher living within 50 meters of the road. This was reduced to four per cent between 50 and 100 meters, and two per cent between 101 and 200 meters.
Dr Hong Chen, from Public Health Ontario and one of the report’s 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.
“More research to understand this link is needed, particularly into the effects of different aspects of traffic, such as air pollutants and noise.”