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Could living by a busy road or near the train tracks put you at higher risk for dementia? A study published Sept. 11, 2021, in The BMJ found that people living close to noisy transportation routes for many years appeared to have an elevated risk of dementia, in particular Alzheimer’s disease, compared with those who lived in quieter locales.
Study authors in Denmark looked at national health registers, which included 105,500 cases of dementia among adults over age 60 from 2004 to 2017. They then looked at estimates of traffic and railway noise from residential neighborhoods throughout the country. After controlling for other factors, such as socioeconomic status, and air pollution they found that people living in areas of high traffic or railroad noise for a decade or longer had a higher risk of dementia in general and a 27% increase in risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Roadway noise, but not train noise, was also linked to a higher risk of vascular dementia, a type of dementia caused by reduced blood flow to the brain from plaque buildup in the arteries. Researchers speculated that noise may affect sleep quality or cause an increase in stress that affects brain health. They say the findings show the importance of public programs to lessen noise pollution.
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