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People who live near major roads have higher rates of dementia, according to a new study.
The study, published in the Lancet medical journal, followed roughly 6.6million people in the Canadian province of Ontario, for 11 years.
It found that those who live within 50m of a major road were up to 12% more likely to be diagnosed with dementia – which could be due to air pollution or noisy traffic contributing to the brain’s decline.
The study, which was carried out by Canadian public health scientists tracked all adults aged between 20 and 85 living in Ontario from 2001 to 2012 using postcodes to determine a person’s proximity to major roads. Their medical records were examined to see who went on to develop dementia, Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis.
More than 243,000 people developed dementia during the study period with the risk greatest in those living closest to major roads.
While there was no association between living near a road and Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis, there was a 7 per cent higher risk in developing dementia among those living within 50 metres of a main road; a 4 per cent higher risk for those living 50-100 metres away and a 2 per cent higher risk at 101-200 metres. After 200 metres there was no increase.