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Living Near Heavy Traffic Increases Dementia Risk

Laura Swash

5th January 2017

An environmental (sociocultural) explanation for dementia has been proposed by the authors of a Canadian study, as reported in The Guardian Newspaper this week. The researchers tracked 6.6M initially healthy adults aged between 20 and 85 living in Ontario, Canada from 2001 to 2012, using postcodes to determine a person’s proximity to major roads.

Over the study period, more than 243,000 people developed dementia, 31,500 people developed Parkinson’s disease and 9,250 people developed multiple sclerosis.

They found no link between living near a road and Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis, but dementia was slightly more common in people living close to busy roads. Those living within 50 metres of a busy road had a 7% higher risk of developing dementia, the risk was 4% higher risk at 50-100 m, 2% higher risk at 101-200 m and there was no increase in risk in those living more than 200 metres away. Those who lived in a major city, within 50 metres of a major road, and who did not move house for the duration of the study had the highest risk at 12%.

Previous research has suggested that nanoscale (tiny) particles of magnetite found in air pollution, and entering the brain via inhalation, are correlated with Alzheimer’s Disease. These examples and links could be used to answer questions on the environment and physiological changes in the brain.

Just another reason to clean up the air!

Image by Frank John Aleksandrowicz is licensed under CC 4.0 International

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Laura Swash

Laura has been teaching Psychology in the face-to-face classroom and online for many years and she enjoys writing online academic material and blogs.

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