Aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) could reduce the adverse effects of air pollution, according to a new study. The study was conducted by a team from the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, Harvard Chan School of Public Health, and Boston University School of Medicine.
For the study, the researchers examined data collected from 2,280 American male veterans who were tested to determine their lung function. Participants were around the age of 73. The team compared the test results to self-reported NSAID use, as well as ambient particulate matter (PM) and black carbon. The results showed NSAID significantly reduced the effect of PM on lung function.
"Our findings suggest that aspirin and other NSAIDs may protect the lungs from short-term spikes in air pollution," first study author Xu Gao, a post-doctoral research scientist in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the Columbia Mailman School, told a news portal. Adding, "Of course, it is still important to minimize our exposure to air pollution, which is linked to a host of adverse health effects, from cancer to cardiovascular disease."
Researchers say it is important to find ways to protect people against the harmful effects of air pollution. "While environmental policies have made considerable progress toward reducing our overall exposure to air pollution, even in places with low levels of air pollution, short-term spikes are still commonplace," senior author Andrea Baccarelli, chair of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the Columbia Mailman School, told a news portal. Adding, "For this reason, it is important to identify means to minimize those harms."
The study's findings were originally published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
Another study warns air pollution can increase the risk of premature death. "The adverse health effects of short-term exposure to air pollution have been well documented, and known to raise public health concerns of its toxicity and widespread exposure," Yuming Guo, an Associate Professor from Monash University's School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine in Australia, told a news portal. Adding, "The smaller the airborne particles, the more easily they can penetrate deep into the lungs and absorb more toxic components causing death."
Previous research also claims the effect of pollution on life expectancy is worse than smoking. "Around the world today, people are breathing air that represents a serious risk to their health. But the way this risk is communicated is very often opaque and confusing, translating air pollution concentrations into colours, like red, brown, orange and green," Michael Greenstone, a professor at Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC), told a news portal. Adding, "My colleagues and I developed the AQLI, where the 'L' stands for 'life,' to address these shortcomings. It takes particulate air pollution concentrations and converts them into perhaps the most important metric that exists: life expectancy."