There must be something “in the air” — because lately, there’s been a bumper crop of research on the effects of air pollution.
Unfortunately, none of it’s been good news.
Just in the past few weeks alone, I’ve told you about studies that show how breathing in tailpipe toxins can compromise your heart and lungs… boost your risk of fractures… and up your feelings of psychological distress.
According to a new study, the risk from air pollution is more than the sum of these parts — because if you’re on the older side, inhaling dirty air for even a brief period of time could send you to an early grave.
In the study out of Harvard University, researchers linked data on air pollution with mortality data over the course of over a dozen years.
After they crunched the numbers, it turned out that as levels of both ozone and PM2.5 — a tiny particle spewed out by cars and factories — rose in the air, so did the risk of dying prematurely.
It didn’t matter if the participants lived in the heart of the city… the sprawl of suburbia… or out in the country. As long as air pollution was present, the grim reaper struck more often.
And we’re not talking about a lifetime of exposure to toxic air — because the jump in death risk happened even with short-term exposure.
What’s more, the increased risk occurred at levels of air pollution well below current safety standards, meaning you really can’t rely on government guidelines to protect you.
The study also showed that for women the risk of dying from breathing this lethal stuff in is 25 per cent greater than men, although the study didn’t explain why.
Now, these results don’t surprise me one bit. We know from previous studies that toxins in the air can threaten pretty much every system in your body — from your vital organs to your brain to your immunity.
Add it all up, and it’s easy to see why air pollution can take you before your time.
Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot you can do to escape it. These days, not even rural areas are immune to the stuff, depending on how the winds blow.
And even if the skies in your neck of the woods look pretty clear, these tiny particles in the air are often invisible — so looks can be deceiving.
So, take two steps to protect yourself from this invisible menace:
- Invest in a quality air purifier with a HEPA filter to clean the air while you’re indoors.
- Increase your B vitamin intake — specifically, folic acid, B6, and B12 — which studies have shown can offset the effects of PM2.5 by as much as 76 per cent! You can do that by taking “B complex” supplements or eating vitamin B-rich foods like liver, chicken, nuts, fish, and eggs.
Wishing you the best of health,
Dr. Glenn S. Rothfeld
Nutrition & Healing
Short-term exposure to low levels of air pollution linked with premature death among U.S. seniors, published online, hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/air-pollution-premature-death-u-s-seniors/