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Air Pollution May More than Double Pneumonia Risk For Older Adults

According to researchers at McMaster University in Canada, air pollution may seriously increase the risk of being hospitalized for pneumonia among mature adults.

Pneumonia is the number one cause of death for mature adults and 600,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized due to pneumonia yearly.

The study was published in the January 2010 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

The researchers analyzed health data on 345 individuals over 65 years of age. All of the participants lived in a highly polluted city and had been hospitalized for pneumonia in the past 2 years.

The researchers calculated levels of pollution near the participants’ home, including levels of fine particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide.

After controlling for outside factors that increase pneumonia risk (such as smoking), the researchers found that the participants living in the most highly polluted parts of the city were more than twice as likely to be hospitalized for pneumonia.

These findings are cause for concern, considering the fact that 1 in 3 Americans lives in an area with air pollution that exceeds federal standards.

Air pollution is harmful because it causes oxidative damage and inflammation which can destroy cell membranes, DNA and proteins. Studies have linked air pollution to a variety of heart and lung diseases, as well as respiratory disorders.

One way to potentially offset the negative effects of air pollution is by consuming more antioxidantand anti-inflammatory foods and supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids.

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