Long-term exposure to traffic noise and risk of incident colon cancer: A pooled study of eleven Nordic cohorts

Nina Roswall, Jesse D. Thacher, Mikael Ögren, Andrei Pyko, Agneta Åkesson, Anna Oudin, Anne Tjønneland, Annika Rosengren, Aslak H. Poulsen, Charlotta Eriksson, David Segersson, Debora Rizzuto, Emilie Helte, Eva M. Andersson, Gunn Marit Aasvang, Hrafnhildur Gudjonsdottir, Jibran Khan, Jenny Selander, Jesper H. Christensen, Jørgen BrandtKarin Leander, Kristoffer Mattisson, Kristina Eneroth, Lara Stucki, Lars Barregard, Leo Stockfelt, Maria Albin, Mette K. Simonsen, Mårten Spanne, Pekka Jousilahti, Pekka Tiittanen, Peter Molnàr, Petter L.S. Ljungman, Tarja Yli-Tuomi, Thomas Cole-Hunter, Timo Lanki, Ulla A. Hvidtfeldt, Youn Hee Lim, Zorana J. Andersen, Göran Pershagen, Mette Sørensen*

*Corresponding author

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


Background Colon cancer incidence is rising globally, and factors pertaining to urbanization have been proposed involved in this development. Traffic noise may increase colon cancer risk by causing sleep disturbance and stress, thereby inducing known colon cancer risk-factors, e.g. obesity, diabetes, physical inactivity, and alcohol consumption, but few studies have examined this. Objectives The objective of this study was to investigate the association between traffic noise and colon cancer (all, proximal, distal) in a pooled population of 11 Nordic cohorts, totaling 155,203 persons. Methods We identified residential address history and estimated road, railway, and aircraft noise, as well as air pollution, for all addresses, using similar exposure models across cohorts. Colon cancer cases were identified through national registries. We analyzed data using Cox Proportional Hazards Models, adjusting main models for harmonized sociodemographic and lifestyle data. Results During follow-up (median 18.8 years), 2757 colon cancer cases developed. We found a hazard ratio (HR) of 1.05 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.99–1.10) per 10-dB higher 5-year mean time-weighted road traffic noise. In sub-type analyses, the association seemed confined to distal colon cancer: HR 1.06 (95% CI: 0.98–1.14). Railway and aircraft noise was not associated with colon cancer, albeit there was some indication in sub-type analyses that railway noise may also be associated with distal colon cancer. In interaction-analyses, the association between road traffic noise and colon cancer was strongest among obese persons and those with high NO2-exposure. Discussion A prominent study strength is the large population with harmonized data across eleven cohorts, and the complete address-history during follow-up. However, each cohort estimated noise independently, and only at the most exposed façade, which may introduce exposure misclassification. Despite this, the results of this pooled study suggest that traffic noise may be a risk factor for colon cancer, especially of distal origin.

TidsskriftEnvironmental Research
StatusUdgivet - 1 maj 2023

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by NordForsk [Grant number 83597 ]. Funding for the included cohorts are shown in Table S1 .


  • Colon cancer
  • Distal
  • Pooled cohort study
  • Proximal
  • Railway noise
  • Road traffic noise

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