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Living Near Major Roadway Linked To Higher Dementia Risk

Chronic exposure to traffic pollution can increase the risk of neurological diseases

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According to researchers living near major roads or highways could lead to a higher risk of dementia, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis (MS). The data used for the study was collected by researchers from the University of British Columbia from 678,000 adults in Metro Vancouver.

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The research reveals that living less than 50 meters from a major road or less than 150 meters from a highway can increase the likelihood of developing neurological disorders. This is most probably due to the degraded air quality near such places.

“For the first time, we have confirmed a link between air pollution and traffic proximity with a higher risk of dementia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and MS at the population level,” said study lead author Weiran Yuchi from the University of British Columbia in Canada.

The research was done on 678,000 adults between the age group 45 and 84 that lived in Metro Vancouver. In addition, individual exposures to road proximity, air pollution, noise and greenness at each person’s residence were also taken into account.

Through the study researchers discovered 13,170 cases of non-Alzheimer’s dementia, 4,201 cases of Parkinson’s disease, 1,277 cases of Alzheimer’s disease and 658 cases of MS. Researchers also noticed that there was a 14 percent increased risk of non-Alzheimer’s dementia for people living near major roads or highways while a 7 percent increase was detected for Parkinson’s disease.

Researchers also found out the effect of green space and how it helped lower the risk factor.

“For people who are exposed to a higher level of green space, they are more likely to be physically active and may also have more social interactions,” said study senior author Michael Brauer. “There may even be benefits from just the visual aspects of vegetation.”

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