This shockingly common living situation could increase your risk of dementia

The closer you live to a busy road, the higher your risk of developing dementia.

With city-living becoming increasingly popular living near busy roads is almost unavoidable. However, a new study has revealed living in close proximity to a major roadway could increase your risk of developing dementia.

The study suggests that people living within 50 meters of a busy road makes up 11 percent of dementia cases causing a concern to the influence traffic has on the brain.

The ten year research project was conducted in the Canadian province of Ontario between 2001 and 2012. Out of the total number of participants (6.6 million), 243,611 were diagnosed with dementia with the risk being higher in those who lived close to a busy road. All participants were aged between 20 and 85 years old

It is not fully understood what the link is between exposure to heavy traffic and dementia development is, but the authors believe it could be down to pollutants and noise.

“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,” explained Dr Hong Chen, from Public Health Ontario and co-author of the study.“More research to understand this link is needed, particularly into the effects of different aspects of traffic, such as air pollutants and noise.”

The team who led the study were keen to find out the effects of traffic on neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia, multiple sclerosis (MS) and Parkinson’s disease. However, during their research they found no link between living near a heavy-traffic road and increase in risk of developing MS or Parkinson’s like they saw for dementia.

Chen and his team want to investigate further as to why this link exists and the potential impact on modern life.

“We want to understand what are the causes and how effective existing interventions are.”

Details of the study were published in The Lancet.

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