Alzheimer's: Is there any link to car mechanics?

I was listening to NPR yesterday (Science Friday) about a medical study which suggests that listening to certain types of noises — machinery-like clicking sounds – could help to clear the amyloid brain deposits found in patients w/ Alzheimer’s disease. The biggest downside is for the noise to have much effect the sound has to be listened to frequently, possibly daily. I got to thinking, some jobs expose workers to these sorts of sounds nearly every day. Auto mechanics for example, who are hearing that rat-da-tat sound from the tire and wheel area all day. I wonder if there’s fewer cases of Alzheimer’s in a group of professional auto mechanics than the general population? Other jobs, like working in steel mills and the like might be another case where that sort of noise is heard daily.

I don’t know any former mechanics with Alzheimers. Cancer gets them first. When you’ve been exposed to chemicals your whole career, it takes a toll.

But it is an interesting question.

Do you recall who did the study? I’m more inclined to believe it if a major medical institution like the Johns Hopkins Medical Institute.

A neurologist at MIT did the study

Well, I’ve been a mechanic for quite some time now, and I already have hearing loss and tinnitus

And let’s take this one step further . . . if I get Alzheimer’s it’ll probably be when I’m retired, at which time I won’t be exposed to those noises you mentioned anymore, so they won’t be able to “benefit” me at that point in my life

I think you’re quite a bit older than me, so when I’m in my 70s and do or don’t get diagnosed with alzheimer’s, I suspect I won’t be able to inform you that your theory was correct or not . . .

You’re right that Alzheimer’s afflicts older people. My father in law has it, and he is 90. It probably became clear he had memory problems 5 to 7 years ago, and he wasn’t so badly affected that he couldn’t drive until about two years ago. The others in his memory care unit seem to be similar age for the most part.

The latest thing I have seen about Alzheimer’s research is that most lines of inquiry are coming to a dead end because although they have developed drugs that g\destroy amyloid deposits, they see no effect on the Alzheimer’s progression. Some are starting to wonder if they have the right culprit.

I also have a severe hearing loss and tinnitus. Air tools, concerts, guitars at home, along with motorcycle exhaust and wind blast takes a toll on the hearing. The hearing loss is not the main problem. It’s dealing with people who talk low or mumble even after you tell them that you’re audibly challenged.

There’s a study for everything and I tune most of them out. The study “suggests…” which really doesn’t mean anything. Remember some decades ago when red M & Ms were said to be killers…

You know of at least one - Tom Magliozzi. That said, any correlation between exposure to noise and lack of a malady is pretty tenuous without a lot of supporting data.


… and then there is the mystery of why approximately 2/3 of Alzheimer’s patients are female. I don’t think any of the researchers have yet figured-out why it is so much more common in women than in men.

Now that you mention it, most of the patients at my FIL’s memory care unit are women. Women do live longer on average. I wonder if that has anything do do with it. Most were also stay at home moms. They might have heard lots of loud noises during WWII, but no one born in the 1930s should have been subjected to them unless they lived in Europe or East Asia.

If you live long enough, you’ll probably experience some kind of dementia. Most people I know would rather not live that long because they’ve known people who went through it and they know how scary it is to go through. Personally, I have mixed feelings.

If mechanics have an average lifespan that is shorter than the national average, that might explain why fewer mechanics are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.


When in physiological psychology way back when, studies at the time concluded consumption a high amount of preservatives in food help decrease the chance of developing senile plaques. Maybe men eat more junk food?

Very true, in most cases. Then again, a friend of mine who is a nurse, delights in caring for and interacting with patients in their 90s who are still “as sharp as a tack”.

Because my mother succumbed to Alzheimer’s, I had my DNA screened for that condition. Luckily, I don’t have the propensity for Early Onset Alzheimer’s, but if I live into my late 80s or early 90s, I could wind up with the type of Alzheimer’s that attacks the older part of the population.

Uhhhh, no. Mrs JT is the queen of junk food. Cookies, chips, you name it. She is also the queen of portion control. Maybe they cancel each other.

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As a dementia caregiver I have a few comments.

I have read about this study. Seems serious enough but I have to review to check on study size (many studies have too small a sample) but seems more legit than most stuff. But I think it was more than just hearing noises. And I suspect specific frequencies, I would not expect working in any environment to help.

There is a concern about loss of hearing increasing chances of dementia. The loss of sensory data later in life (this doesn’t concern people who have been deaf all of their lives) might encourage dementia through brain’s loss of stimulation and activity. So working in a noisy environment.

In Alzheimer’s Disease (not all dementias are Alzheimer’s) it is not clear if the plaques are the cause of the problem or if they might be the brain’s defense against the real problem. Some drugs that succeeded in attacking plaques saw people getting worse, which would support the 2nd theory.

Do not think of dementia as an old people’s disease. The first recorded case of Alzheimer’s was 53 years old. I know people who died of it prior to age 60 and there are other dementias that notorious for affecting younger people, notable Frontotemporal Behavior (my wife’s dx). I know of people who had that in their 30s. And dementia is not part of normal aging.


I don’t have the sense Tom was a mechanic, at least not for any length of time. Car repair-wise, Tom seemed more of a free spirited diy’er. I believe his main line of business was consulting related to business administration and management.

We’re born with some kind of problem when our default setting is “they all do that.” B-12 deficiency combined with vitamin D deficiency was my problem. People would talk about short term memory and I would say “people have short term memory”?!!

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Which study are you referring to?
Loss of hearing component, are deaf people more susceptible to dementia?
Senile plaques have been associated with dementia, but it does not mean it is the only cause.

I have a reference concerning deafness. One item i missed is that when people lose their hearing later in life they tend to be less social and more isolated, which can be a factor. The truth is no one is sure, we have a correlation with some proposed mechanisms.

Different dementias have different causes. FTD is associated with the build up of Pick bodies, it was originally called Pick’s Disease. The discovery of Pick’s Disease predates Alzheimers.

We really don’t know the causes and are pretty bad at dementia diagnosis, partly because most doctors are ignorant about dementia, including many neurologists. While there we have identified genetic markers most cases of dementia do not seem to be inherited. Plus having specific genes does not mean you will suffer from dementia.