A diet that contains rich contents of vitamin C may minimize the damaging effects of air pollution for people suffering chronic lung diseases, claims a study by the University of British Columbia in Canada. Vitamin C contains antioxidants that protect the body from harmful molecules called free radicals, which damages cells.
Free radicals can be formed when air pollution enters the lungs and a number of evidence suggest that they play key role in asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease, cancer and most respiratory illnesses. Antioxidants can attach to free radicals, thwarting them prior to, they damage cells.
In latest study researchers from Imperial College in London examined more than two hundred patients, aged between fifty-five and seventy-five, who were admitted to hospital for asthma or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), in conjunction with the levels of air pollution on the days before and after they admitted to hospital. Majority of study participants were former smokers.
Researchers specifically examined the levels of course particulate matter, which is generated largely through the incineration of fossil fuels. The study findings showed that with every rise in course particular matter of ten micrograms per cubic meter, there was a thirty-five percent increased risk of hospitalization for people with asthma or COPD.
However, the risk of hospitalization was one-and-half times greater among people with low levels of vitamin C and they have had an increased risk of breathing problems on days when levels of outdoor air pollution were higher. Study leader Cristina Canova, explained the protective effect of vitamin C was still present after excluding smokers and elderly subjects.
It means the effect of this antioxidant was not explained by smoking or age. However, the study demonstrated that smokers and older people have a tendency to have lower levels of many nutrients than nonsmokers. An environmental health scientist, Michael Breuer, stated this study adds to a small but growing body of evidence that the effects of air pollution might be modified by antioxidants.
The study was reported in the journal Epidemiology.