New Study: Air Pollution Speeds Up Aging of Lungs & Increases COPD Risk
We live in an increasingly polluted environment, loaded with toxins; the soil we grow our food in is often nutrient-depleted and many consume processed, factory-made foods supplying scant nutrients. A new study from the European Lung Foundation has found that exposure to outdoor air pollution is linked to decreased lung function and an increased risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in the UK.
What is COPD?
COPD is a long-term condition linked to reduced lung function that causes inflammation in the lungs and a narrowing of the airways, making breathing difficult. According to the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) project, COPD is the third leading cause of death worldwide, with numbers expected to increase over the next ten years.
Though lung function naturally declines with age, new research suggests that air pollution may contribute to the aging process and adds to the evidence that breathing in polluted air harms the lungs.
Researchers from the Environmental Health and Sustainability at the University of Leicester, UK, used a validated air pollution model to estimate the levels of pollution that people were exposed to at their homes when they enrolled in the UK Biobank study, with data from over 300,000 people. The type of pollutants investigated were produced by burning fossil fuels from car and other vehicle exhausts, power plants and industrial emissions.
Participants answered detailed health questionnaires and had their lung function measured by medical professionals between 2006 and 2010. The research team then conducted multiple tests to see how long-term exposure to higher levels of the different air pollutants was linked to changes to the participants lung function. Further analysis also looked at whether working in occupations that increase the risk of developing COPD impacted disease prevalence.
The Results are In!
The data showed that for each annual average increase of five micrograms per cubic meter of PM2.5 in the air that participants were exposed to at home, the associated reduction in lung function was similar to the effects of two years of aging.
When researchers assessed COPD prevalence, they found that among participants living in areas with concentrations above World Health Organization annual average guidelines (10 μg/m3), COPD prevalence was four times higher than among people who were exposed to passive smoking at home, and prevalence was half that of people who have never been a smoker.
Professor Tobias Welte from Hannover University, Germany, is President of the European Respiratory Society and was not involved in the study. He said: “The findings of this large study reinforce that exposure to polluted air seriously harms human health by reducing life expectancy and making people more prone to developing chronic lung disease.
So, What Next?
Because our air is polluted, the soil we grow our food in is often nutrient-depleted, and many consume processed, factory-made foods supplying scant nutrients, our bodies wind up requiring even more vitamins and minerals to effectively metabolize nutrient-depleted foods. Add that depletion with less time spent outdoors, minimal exercise, prescription drugs and medications, and chronic stress, and the result is that many individuals are truly nutritionally deficient.
According to Archana Gogna, MS, CNS, MBA, healthcare professionals are advising their patients to start taking a safe, reliably-made, high-quality multivitamin mineral formula on a daily basis to fill the nutritional deficits in their diet. She explains, “A superior multivitamin is designed around a core of energy-producing nutrients along with powerfully protective food-derived antioxidants. A high-quality, non-GMO multivitamin is designed to address the replenishment of core nutrients depleted by commonly prescribed drugs, to support physical activity, and to support the increased need for particular nutrients during the aging process.”
Questions about how pollution impacts your health? Leave a comment below to join the discussion!