Aspirin can reduce air pollution by half according to a first study of its kind

Aspirin can reduce air pollution by half according to a first study of its kind


This new intriguing study is the first to provide evidence that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin can reduce the adverse effects of air pollution on lung function.

A subset of data was analyzed by researchers collected from a cohort of 2,280 Boston-area male veterans who were given tests to check how their lungs were functioning. The average age of the participants was 73 years. Researchers examined the relationship between self-reported NSAID use, test results, and ambient particulate matter (PM) and black carbon in the month preceding the test. In doing so, they considered a number of factors, including the subject's status of health and whether or not he was a smoker.

They found that the use of an NSAID almost cut in half the effect which PM had on lung function, with association consistent across all four weekly air pollution measurements from the same day to 28 days before the lung function test.

Since most of the people in the study cohort taking NSAIDs used aspirin, the researchers reported that the observed modification effect was mainly due to aspirin. However, the effects of NSAIDs without aspirin should be further investigated.

Researchers speculate that NSAIDs relieve inflammation caused by air pollution, even though the mechanism of action is unknown.

The Columbia Mailman School of Public Health research team, the Harvard Chan School of Public Health, and the Boston University School of Medicine published their findings in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

"Our findings suggest that aspirin and other NSAIDs can protect the lungs from short-term air pollution spikes," says Ph.D. research scientist Xu Gao. "Of course, it's still important to be exposed to air pollution as less as possible, because it impacts health in a negative way and may cause cardiovascular disease or cancer.’’

"Although environmental policies strive to reduce our exposure to air pollution, short-term spikes are still ordinary," says senior author Andrea Baccarelli, chair of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia Mailman School. "That's why it's important to identify ways to minimize this damage."

A previous study by Baccarelli showed that B vitamins are also important in reducing the health effects of air pollution.

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Darko Siracevski

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