LIVING near busy roads could increase your risk of developing dementia, a new study suggests.
The study examined the 2001-2012 health records of about 6.6 million Ontario residents aged 20-85, and found a correlation with dementia.
Most of us associate auto pollution with coughing and wheezing, but mounting evidence is linking air pollution to a less obvious health effect: dementia. They used postcodes to ascertain the residents' proximity to major roads - determined based on traffic volume - and found that 95 percent lived within 1 km (0.62 miles) of a major road.
Compared with those living 300 metres away from a major road the risk was seven per cent higher within 50 metres, four per cent higher between 50 and100 metres and two per cent higher between 101 and 200 metres.
Living within a 50 metre radius of high-traffic roads can increase the risk of developing dementia later in life than, warns a study.
While there was no association between living near a road and Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis, dementia was more common the closer people lived to busy roads.
"There is also evidence that good lifestyle habits which are more within our control can reduce the risk of dementia, for instance, stopping smoking, exercising regularly, and eating healthily".
They established a link between exposure to traffic and these cognitive impairment: the two main pollutants in question are nitrogen dioxide and fine particles that are emitted by motor vehicles.
The authors highlight the significance of their study in the light of the growing prevalence of dementia, and the limited information researchers and healthcare professionals have on its causes and prevention. "This study suggests air pollutants that can get into the brain via the blood stream can lead to neurological problems", said Ray Copes, an environmental and occupational health expert at Public Health Ontario (PHO) who conducted the study with colleagues from Canada's Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. The health repercussions of living close to heavy traffic vary considerably among exposed populations, given that traffic includes exposures to complex mixtures of environmental insults...
Pollution has always been suspected as playing a role in the development of Alzheimer's disease but no clear link had been established until now.
It is "worth pointing out that the numbers of people developing MS and Parkinson's were much smaller than those developing dementia, so (numbers) may not have been large enough to show an effect if there was one", said professor Tom Dening, director of the Centre for Old Age and Dementia at the University of Nottingham. "Regardless of the route of causation, this study presents one more important reason why we must clean up the air in our cities".