Science 3 min read

New Study Claims Air Pollution Speeds Up Aging of the Lungs

Our lungs are as vital as any other organs in our body. However, a new study shows that excessive exposure to air pollution is contributing to their rapid aging.

SD-Pictures / Pixabay

SD-Pictures / Pixabay

According to a recent study, exposure to outdoor air pollution leads to decreased lung function and an increased risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

COPD is a long-term condition which causes reduced lung function. Not only does it create the lungs to become inflamed, but the disease also leads to the narrowing of the airways.

As a result, people with COPD often find it difficult to breathe.

According to the Global Burden of Disease (GBD), COPD is the world’s third leading cause of death. And researchers expect the death rate from these diseases to increase over the next decade.

While our lung function declines typically as we age, new research suggests that air pollution can contribute to the aging process and cause COPD.

How Air Pollution Puts Human Lungs at Risk of COPD

Few studies have explored the effect of air pollution on lung health. So, for their research, the UK-based researchers examined over 300,000 people using data from the United Kingdom’s Biobank study.

Their goal was simple; to find the link between air pollution and changes in lung function. The researchers also wanted to understand whether it increases your risk of developing COPD.

So, they conducted tests to check for this while accounting for factors that could influence the result. These include sex, age, body mass index (BMI), education level, smoking status, and exposure to second-hand smoke.

In addition, they analyzed how jobs that increase the chance of developing COPD affects disease prevalence.

Air Pollution and COPD Prevalence

The findings reveal that an annual five microgram increase in household air pollution could age the lungs by at least two years.

Also, residents of areas with the air pollution that’s above WHO annual average guidelines of ten micrograms per cubic meter are four times more likely to develop COPD than those exposed to passive smoke at home when compared with someone who has been a smoker, the prevalence reduced by half.

In a statement, Professor of Environmental Epidemiology in the Centre for Environmental Health and Sustainability at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom, Anna Hansell, said:

“Worryingly, we found that air pollution had much larger effects on people from lower-income households. Air pollution had approximately twice the impact on lung function decline and three times the increased COPD risk in lower-income participants compared to higher-income participants who had the same air pollution exposure.”

With further studies, the researchers hope to uncover if genetic factors interact with air pollution.

Read More: Study Shows Air Pollution is Twice as Deadly as Previously Estimated

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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