Scientists from Peking University and elsewhere found that eating healthy diets may protect health from air pollution.
Recent studies suggest the potential effects of air pollutants, diets, and genetic susceptibility on death risk.
In the current study, researchers aimed to assess the association between air pollution and death and examine the effects of a healthy diet and genetic susceptibility on the association.
They used data from a total of 386,937 people who were enrolled from 2006 to 2010 and followed up to 2018 in the UK Biobank study.
The team measured the annual average air pollutant concentrations of particulate matter (PM) with diameters ≤2.5 (PM2.5), ≤10 (PM10), and between 2.5 and 10 µm (PM2.5-10), and nitrogen oxides (NO2 and NOx) and linked the information to participants’ residential addresses.
The team evaluated the healthy dietary patterns using a healthy diet score (HDS) based on intakes of vegetables, fruit, fish, unprocessed red meat, and processed meat.
They also calculated the genetic risk score of the lifespan.
During a follow-up of about 9 years, the team found 11 881 deaths, including 2426 from cardiovascular diseases (CVD), 1211 from coronary heart disease (CHD), and 466 from a stroke.
The researchers found that PM2.5, PM10, NO2, and NOx were linked to all-cause death.
PM2.5 was also linked to increased risks of heart disease death.
In addition, the team found that adherence to healthy diets changed associations of PM2.5, NO2, and NOx with all-cause death.
The team found vegetable intakes showed interactions with PM2.5, NO2, and NOx.
The associations between air pollutants and increased risks of death risk were reduced among people with higher vegetable intakes.
Based on the findings, the team says this study provides evidence linking long-term exposure to various air pollutants to the risk of all-cause and heart disease death.
The findings also showed the potential reduction of a healthy diet, especially high vegetable intakes, on such relations.
These findings highlight the importance of adherence to a healthy diet in lowering air pollution-related death risk.
The research was published in The International Journal of Epidemiology and conducted by Mengying Wang et al.
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