Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Neighborhood Noise May Increase Dementia Risk


Years ago, I read of studies that found that loud factory noise damages the brain.


Michelle Samuels

November 6, 2020

Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia affect millions of older adults in the US—but not equally. Past research has identified risk factors including genes, education, racism, and air pollution, and a growing number of studies now point to noise as another influence on risk of dementia.

Now, a new study co-led by a School of Public Health researcher finds that 10 decibels more daytime neighborhood noise is associated with 36 percent higher odds of mild cognitive impairment and 30 percent higher odds of Alzheimer’s disease.

Published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia, the journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, the study is the first of its kind in the US.




 Do loud noises harm the brain?

    November 20, 2020 Betsy Mills, PhD

 Urban areas are centers of bustling activity, which can provide ample opportunities for cognitively stimulating activities, but also increase exposure to excessive noise, commonly referred to as noise pollution. Exposure to noise can lead to short term impairments in cognitive function, particularly with respect to the ability to focus and remember, while some studies suggest that, similar to air pollution, chronic exposure to noise pollution may increase the risk for dementia.

A report by the European Environmental Agency found that 12,000 premature deaths and 48,000 cases of ischemic heart disease were attributable to environmental noise pollution each year in Europe The majority of the noise pollution is related to traffic.


Noise acts as a stressor by inducing a state of arousal in the body, which increases levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol. The brain is wasting resources on trying to tune out the noise, so the brain has less capacity to perform other complex tasks, leading to a temporary decline in cognitive performance [3]. Attention and memory tend to be the cognitive domains most impacted by noise. The stress response leads to vascular changes that can pave the way for cardiovascular disease and vascular dementia. Meta-analyses indicate that each 10 dB(A) increase in environmental noise increases the risk for adverse cardiovascular outcomes, including hypertension and heart attacks, by 7 to 17% [8]. Due to the strong connection between heart health and brain health, these negative effects on the cardiovascular system may account for some of the increased dementia risk from noise pollution. Exposure to noise during the night can impair sleep quality, which has additional negative health consequences. Chronic activation of the arousal-stress response can also cause oxidative stress, which is another driver of dementia.



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