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Noise exposure and dementia: a rising concern in ageing populations

BMJ 2021; 374 doi: (Published 09 September 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;374:n2120

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Residential exposure to transportation noise in Denmark and incidence of dementia

  1. Beate Ritz, professor of epidemiology, environmental health, and neurology1,
  2. Yu Yu, postdoctoral researcher2
  1. 1Department of Epidemiology, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA, USA
  2. 2Department of Environmental Health Sciences, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA, USA
  1. Correspondence to: B Ritz britz{at}

Reducing noise is a public health priority

The World Health Organization estimates that about 50 million people worldwide have some form of dementia, with nearly 10 million new patients added to that number each year ( Even though Alzheimer’s disease accounts for at most 60-70% of the cases, by the time of their death most patients with dementia exhibit a mixed pathology of Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, and Parkinson’s disease related dementia.1 Thus, the identification of new modifiable risk factors for all types of dementias is urgently needed to address and combat this costly and growing global health crisis.

A better understanding of the role of widespread and modifiable environmental exposures is needed, including transportation related exposures such as noise.23 According to a report from WHO,4 traffic noise alone is responsible for the loss of more than one million healthy life years annually in western Europe as a result of noise related disability and disease, including cognitive impairment. Evidence from …

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