Washington D.C. [USA], Jan. 6 : Living within a 50 metre radius of high-traffic roads can increase the risk of developing dementia later in life than, warns a study.
The research, published in the journal of the Lancet, found that people who lived within 50 metres of high-traffic roads had a seven percent higher likelihood of developing dementia compared to those who lived more than 300 meters away from busy roads.
"Our findings show the closer you live to roads with heavy day-to-day traffic, the greater the risk of developing dementia," said lead study author Dr. Hong Chen from Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Canada.
With our widespread exposure to traffic and the greater tendency for people to live in cities these days, this has serious public health implications," Chen added.
The team examined records of more than 6.5 million Ontario residents aged 20-85 to investigate the correlation between living close to major roads and dementia, Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis.
They found 243,611 cases of dementia.
The results indicated that living close to major roads increased the risk of developing dementia, but not Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis, two other major neurological disorders.
"Our study is the first in Canada to suggest that pollutants from heavy, day-to-day traffic are linked to dementia," said another researcher Dr. Ray Copes from Public Health Ontario (PHO).
This study suggests air pollutants that can get into the brain via the blood stream can lead to neurological problems," Copes added.
Copes further suggested the findings of this paper could be used to help inform municipal land use decisions as well as building design to take into account air pollution factors and the impact on residents.
The increase in the risk of developing dementia went down to four percent if people lived 50-100 metres from major traffic, and to two per cent if they lived within 101-200 metres. At over 200 metres, there was no elevated risk of dementia.