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. 2013 Feb;121(2):217-22.
doi: 10.1289/ehp.1205503. Epub 2012 Dec 10.

Long-term Exposure to Road Traffic Noise and Incident Diabetes: A Cohort Study

Free PMC article

Long-term Exposure to Road Traffic Noise and Incident Diabetes: A Cohort Study

Mette Sørensen et al. Environ Health Perspect. .
Free PMC article


Background: Road traffic noise at normal urban levels can lead to stress and sleep disturbances. Both excess of stress hormones and reduction in sleep quality and duration may lead to higher risk for type 2 diabetes.

Objective: We investigated whether long-term exposure to residential road traffic noise is associated with an increased risk of diabetes.

Methods: In the population-based Danish Diet, Cancer and Health cohort of 57,053 people 50-64 years of age at enrollment in 1993-1997, we identified 3,869 cases of incident diabetes in a national diabetes registry between enrollment and 2006. The mean follow-up time was 9.6 years. Present and historical residential addresses from 1988 through 2006 were identified using a national register, and exposure to road traffic noise was estimated for all addresses. Associations between exposure to road traffic noise and incident diabetes were analyzed in a Cox regression model.

Results: A 10-dB higher level of average road traffic noise at diagnosis and during the 5 years preceding diagnosis was associated with an increased risk of incident diabetes, with incidence rate ratios (IRR) of 1.08 (95% CI: 1.02, 1.14) and 1.11 (95% CI: 1.05, 1.18), respectively, after adjusting for potential confounders including age, body mass index, waist circumference, education, air pollution (nitrogen oxides), and lifestyle characteristics. After applying a stricter definition of diabetes (2,752 cases), we found IRRs of 1.11 (95% CI: 1.03, 1.19) and 1.14 (95% CI: 1.06, 1.22) per 10-dB increase in road traffic noise at diagnosis and during the 5 years preceding diagnosis, respectively.

Conclusion: Exposure to residential road traffic noise was associated with a higher risk of diabetes. This study provides further evidence that urban noise may adversely influence population health.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare they have no actual or potential competing financial interests.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Association between exposure to road traffic noise (Lden) at the residence at the time of diagnosis and all incident diabetes adjusted for age; sex; BMI; waist circumference; smoking status, duration, and intensity; environmental tobacco smoke; intake of fruits, vegetables, saturated fat, and alcohol; sport; bicycling and walking; school attendance; occupational status; municipality socioeconomic status; railway and airport noise; air pollution; and calendar year. The vertical whiskers show incidence rate ratios (IRR) with 95% CIs at the median of six exposure categories (52–55, 55–58, 58–61, 61–64, 64–67, > 67 dB) when compared with the reference category of ≤ 52 dB.

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