Aspirin may halve adverse air pollution effects

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, may lessen the adverse effects of air pollution exposure on lung functions, research published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine has found. 

The researchers analysed a subset of data collected from a cohort of 2,228 male veterans from the Greater Boston area, the average age of participants was 73 years.

The participants were given tests to determine their lung function and the researchers then examined the relationship between the test results, self-reported NSAID use, ambient particulate matter (PM) and black carbon in the month preceding the test.

The researchers accounted for a variety of factors, including the health status of the subject and whether or not they were a smoker.

The study found that the use of any NSAID nearly halved the effect of PM on lung function, with the association consistent across all four weekly air pollution measurements from the same-day to 28 days prior to the lung function test.

While the exact reason why aspirin may help lessen the effects of air pollution is unknown, the researchers believe that NSAIDs may mitigate inflammation.

Because most of the people in the study cohort who took NSAIDs used aspirin, the researchers say the modifying effect they observed was mainly from aspirin, but add that effects of non-aspirin NSAIDs are worthy of further exploration.

Corresponding author, Xu Gao, a PhD and post-doctoral research scientist in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the Columbia Mailman school said: ‘Our findings suggest that aspirin and other NSAIDs may protect the lungs from short-term spikes in air pollution.’

‘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.’

In related news,  a new study will examine if long-term exposure to air pollution can increase a person’s risk of developing epilepsy.

Earlier this week, researchers in the US have found a ‘strong link’ between increased levels of air pollution and aggressive behaviour.

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