Sunday, December 25, 2005

Breathe less if you want to live long?

Mice that were fed a high-fat diet and exposed to air with fine particles had 1.5 times more plaque production than mice fed the same diet and exposed to clean filtered air, according to a Mount Sinai School of Medicine and New York University School of Medicine study.

The study showed that the combination of fine particle pollution and high-fat diet can promote the development of atherosclerosis, and may explain why people who live in highly polluted areas have a higher risk of heart disease. The findings are also important because the fine particle concentrations used in the study were well within the range of concentrations found in the air around major metropolitan areas.

The built-up of plaque in pollution-exposed rats was seen even if they were kept on a low-fat diet.

Among mice given clean air, those on the high-fat diet had greater plaque production and artery wall inflammation than those given the normal diet. These results suggest that both diet and fine particle pollution contributed to the development of atherosclerosis in the mice.

So here's the deal:

  1. Normal diet without pollution - arteries 13.2% obstructed
  2. Normal diet with pollution - arteries 19.2% obstructed
  3. Fatty diet without pollution - arteries 26.2% obstructed
  4. Fatty diet with pollution - arteries 41.5%

(I like the mice studies as variables are controlled.) As you can see, just breathing boosts your risk.

Nearly 90 million Americans are breathing unhealthy air, according to federal officials. This week, the Bush administration proposed a modest tightening of federal air-quality standards yesterday for the first time in eight years, drawing protests from both public health and industry officials.

How does your city stack up? Check it out.

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