Transport noise associated with increased dementia risk
08 September 2021
Researchers have suggested a link between noise made by transport services and dementia risk. The British Medical Journal have published the findings today (Wednesday 8 September).
What did the researchers do in this study?
Using common ways to measure noise levels, researchers in Denmark estimated exposure to road traffic and railway noise for residential addresses in Denmark.
They looked at nearly two million people over the age of 60 in Denmark.
What did they find?
Linking people’s health records and address history, researchers found 103,500 new cases of dementia during the study period.
High exposure to road traffic and railway noise were associated with a higher risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Only road traffic noise was associated with an increased risk of vascular dementia.
Our expert comment on the findings
Dr Rosa Sancho, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“This research, based in Denmark, doesn’t tell us the cause of the increased dementia risk but does add to evidence linking exposure to noise pollution and dementia. While this is a large observational study using detailed estimates of residential noise levels, it only considers road and rail noise and doesn’t evaluate established lifestyle risk factors for dementia, which could have also attributed to the increased risk of dementia.
“Previous research has linked air pollution to dementia risk, but in this study, researchers found a separate link between transport noise and dementia. While the researchers estimated people’s exposure to noise levels at residential addresses, we do not know when people in the study were at home or if their homes were fitted with insulation, so further investigation is needed before any firm conclusions can be drawn.
“While eliminating noise pollution may have beneficial effects for our health and wellbeing, we don’t yet know whether it could help to reduce dementia risk. Current evidence suggests that the best way to support brain health is by staying physically and mentally active, eating a healthy balanced diet, not smoking, drinking only within the recommended limits and keeping weight, cholesterol and blood pressure in check.”