Alzheimer’s Society calls for further investigation after study suggests dementia rates higher near busy roads

Leading dementia charity Alzheimer’s Society has called for further investigation into a study which suggested living near busy roads has a detrimental effect on the brain.

Research released in UK medical journal The Lancet yesterday suggested as many as 11% of dementia cases living within 50 metres of a major road could be down to traffic.

The study, which examined 2 million people in the Canadian province of Ontario between 2002 and 2012, found that air pollution or noisy traffic could be contributing to the brain’s decline.

However, Alzheimer’s Society west London operations manager Karen McCrudden was quick to point out further research must be undertaken to determine how significant air pollution is in relation to dementia.

She said: “Although this was a thorough study in a large number of people, the research hasn’t yet shown what causes this link, so we can’t be sure that reducing pollution or noise from traffic would decrease the risk of dementia.

“The causes of dementia are complex.

“Lifestyle factors such as exercise, eating healthily and avoiding smoking will reduce our chances of developing dementia.”

There were 243,611 cases of dementia diagnosed in Ontario during the study period, but the risk was greatest to those living closest to major roads.

The researchers also accounted for other risk factors like poverty, obesity, education levels and smoking – in attempt to rule them out.

Caroline Russell, Green Party member of the London Assembly, called for London Mayor Sadiq Khan to make drastic alterations to the emission zones in the city.

“I urge the Mayor to expand his ultra low emission zone and speed up his bus fleet clean up to bring our air pollution down,” she said.

“Urgent action is needed to protect the health of all Londoners.”

Featured imaged courtesy of Garry Knight via Flickr, with thanks

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