Long-Term Exposure to Road Traffic Noise and Incidence of Diabetes in the Danish Nurse Cohort

Environ Health Perspect. 2019 May;127(5):57006. doi: 10.1289/EHP4389.


Background: Evidence on the association between road traffic noise and diabetes risk is sparse and inconsistent with respect to how confounding by air pollution was treated.

Objectives: In this study, we aimed to examine whether long-term exposure to road traffic noise over 25 years is associated with incidence of diabetes, independent of air pollution.

Methods: A total of 28,731 female nurses from the Danish Nurse cohort ([Formula: see text] at recruitment in 1993 or 1999) were linked to the Danish National Diabetes Register with information on incidence of diabetes from 1995 until 2013. The annual mean weighted levels of 24-h average road traffic noise ([Formula: see text]) at nurses' residences from 1970 until 2013 were estimated with the Nord2000 method and annual mean levels of particulate matter (PM) with diameter [Formula: see text] and [Formula: see text] ([Formula: see text] and [Formula: see text]), nitrogen dioxide ([Formula: see text]), and nitrogen oxide ([Formula: see text]) with the Danish AirGIS modeling system. Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to examine the association between residential [Formula: see text] in four different exposure windows (1-, 5-, 10-, and 25-years) and the incidence of diabetes, adjusted for lifestyle factors and air pollutants.

Results: Of 23,762 nurses free of diabetes at the cohort baseline, 1,158 developed diabetes during a mean follow-up of 15.2 years. We found weak positive associations between 5-y mean exposure to [Formula: see text] (per [Formula: see text] increase) and diabetes incidence in a crude model [hazard ratio (HR): 1.07; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.99, 1.12], which attenuated in a model adjusted for lifestyle factors (HR:1.04; 95% CI: 0.97, 1.12), and reached unity after additional adjustment for [Formula: see text] (HR: 0.99; 0.91, 1.08). In analyses by level of urbanization, we found a positive association between noise and diabetes in urban areas (HR:1.27; 95% CI: 0.98, 1.63) that was unchanged after adjusting for [Formula: see text] (HR: 1.25; 95% CI: 0.97, 1.62), but we found no apparent association in provincial (HR: 1.02; 95% CI: 0.88, 1.18) or rural areas (HR: 0.97; 95% CI: 0.87, 1.08).

Conclusion: In the nationwide cohort of Danish nurses 44 years of age and older, we found no association between long-term exposure to road traffic noise and diabetes incidence after adjustment for [Formula: see text] but found suggestive evidence of an association limited to urban areas. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP4389.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Air Pollutants / analysis
  • Cohort Studies
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / etiology
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Middle Aged
  • Noise, Transportation / adverse effects*


  • Air Pollutants