LONDON: 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 7 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. — Reuters
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.