Exposure to noise from road and rail Traffic over a long period is associated with a higher risk of developing dementia, especially Alzheimer’s disease, according to a recent study from Denmark.
The study published in The BMJ pointed out that that as many as 1,216 out of the 8,475 cases of dementia registered in Denmark in 2017 could be attributed to road and rail noise exposures. They claimed that the study pointed towards reduction in traffic related noise for its prevention.
Reports across the world point out that the number of people with this disease is expected to exceed 130 million by 2050, making it a costly and growing global health crisis. Besides well established risk factors, such as cardiovascular diseases and unhealthy lifestyle, environmental exposures may also play a role in the development of the disease. Reports also point out that transportation noise is the second worst environmental risk factor for public health in Europe after air pollution Around a fifth of the European population is exposed to transportation noise above the recommended level of 55 dB (decibels).
Several studies have linked transportation noise to several diseases and health conditions such as coronary heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. However, only a little research on transportation noise and dementia and findings are inconsistent. The researchers looked into association between long term residential exposure to road traffic and railway noise and risk of the disease among two million adults aged over 60 and living in Denmark between 2004 and 2017. They analysed national health registers to identify cases of all-cause dementia and different types of dementia (Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, and Parkinson’s disease related dementia) over an average of 8.5 years. They found 103,500 new cases of dementia during the study period.
The study found that a ten-year average exposure to road traffic and railway noise at the most and least exposed sides of buildings was cared with a higher risk of all-cause dementia.