Health

Living near heavy traffic increases risks of dementia

A wake-up call: People who live within 50 m of high-traffic roads have seven per cent higher chance of developing dementia, says study.

A wake-up call: People who live within 50 m of high-traffic roads have seven per cent higher chance of developing dementia, says study.   | Photo Credit: S_Subramanium

People who live near roads laden with heavy traffic face a higher risk of developing dementia than those living further away, possibly because pollutants get into their brains via the blood stream, according to researchers in Canada.

A study in The Lancet medical journal found that people who lived within 50 metres of high-traffic roads had a seven per cent higher chance of developing dementia compared to those who lived more than 300 metres away from busy roadways.

“Air pollutants can get into the blood stream and lead to inflammation, which is linked with cardiovascular disease and possibly other conditions such as diabetes. 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.

Brain disease

Dementia is caused by brain diseases, most commonly Alzheimer’s disease, which result in the loss of brain cells and affect memory, thinking, behaviour, navigational and spatial abilities and the ability to perform everyday activities.

The World Health Organization estimates the number of people with dementia in 2015 at 47.5 million, and that total is rising rapidly as life expectancy increases and societies age. The incurable condition is a leading cause of disability and dependency, and is starting to overtake heart disease as a cause of death in some developed countries. Independent experts said the Canadian study had important implications for public health around the world. Tom Dening of the Centre for Old Age and Dementia at Britain’s Nottingham University said the findings were “interesting and provocative”.

“It is unlikely that Ontario has the worst air quality in the world, so the risks might be even greater in cities that are habitually wrapped in smog,” he said. . — Reuters

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Printable version | Aug 8, 2020 2:22:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/Living-near-heavy-traffic-increases-risks-of-dementia/article16993979.ece

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