Aspirin may protect your lungs from air pollution

In a new study, researchers for the first time found that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin may prevent the harm of air pollution exposure to lung function.

The research was conducted by a team from the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health and elsewhere.

The team analyzed a subset of data collected from a cohort of 2,280 male veterans from the greater Boston area who were given tests to determine their lung function.

The average age of participants was 73 years.

The researchers examined the relationship between test results, NSAID use, and ambient particulate matter (PM) and black carbon in the month preceding the test.

They found that the use of any NSAID nearly halved of the effect of PM on lung function, with the association consistent across all four weekly air pollution measurements.

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.

While the reason is unknown, the researchers speculate that NSAIDs mitigate inflammation brought about by air pollution.

The findings suggest that aspirin and other NSAIDs may protect the lungs from short-term spikes in air pollution.

The team says there 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.

An earlier study by the team found that B vitamins may also play a role in reducing the health impact of air pollution.

The lead author of the study is Xu Gao, Ph.D., a post-doctoral research scientist.

The study is published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

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