Transportation noise and risk for colorectal cancer: a nationwide study covering Denmark

Mette Sørensen*, Aslak Harbo Poulsen, Jesse Thacher, Ulla Arthur Hvidtfeldt, Matthias Ketzel, Camilla Geels, Steen Solvang Jensen, Victor H. Valencia, Ole Raaschou-Nielsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Purpose: Few studies have suggested that traffic noise is a risk factor for cancer, but evidence is inconclusive. We aimed to investigate whether road traffic and railway noise are associated with risk of colorectal cancer. Methods: We obtained address history for all 3.5 million people above 40 years of age and living in Denmark for the period 1990–2017 and estimated road traffic and railway noise (Lden) at the most and least exposed facades of all addresses as well as air pollution (PM2.5). During follow-up (2000–2017), 35,881 persons developed colon cancer and 19,755 developed rectal cancer. Information on individual and area-level demographic and socioeconomic variables was collected from Danish registries. We analyzed data using Cox proportional hazards models, including traffic noise as time-varying 10-year average exposure. Results: Exposure to road traffic noise at the most exposed façade was associated with an incidence rate ratio and 95% confidence interval for proximal colon cancer of 1.018 (0.999–1.038) per 10 dB higher noise. We observed no associations for road traffic noise at the least exposed façade or for railway noise in relation to proximal colon cancer. Also, we found no association between road traffic or railway noise and risk for distal colon cancer or rectal cancer. Conclusion: Traffic noise did not seem associated with higher risk for colorectal cancer, although the suggestion of a slightly higher risk of proximal colon cancer following exposure to road traffic noise warrants further research.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCancer Causes and Control
Issue number12
Pages (from-to)1447-1455
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Independent Research Fund Denmark [Grant number 7016-00036B].


  • Cohort study
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Epidemiology
  • Traffic noise

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