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Breathing Dirty Air Can Make You More Prone To Diabetes, Obesity and other Chronic illnesses: Study

The researchers looked at data from air-monitoring stations near the subjects' addresses to calculate their previous-year exposure to ozone (which forms when emissions from vehicles are exposed to sunlight), particulate matter (hazardous particles suspended in the air), and nitrous oxide (a toxic byproduct of burning fossil fuel)

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Pollution
Worldwide, according to research published this month, air pollution kills 8.8 million people annually - more than smoking or war. Pixabay

Breathing dirty air takes a heavy toll on gut bacteria, boosting risk of obesity, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders and other chronic illnesses, a new study revealed.

The study, published in the journal Environment International, is the first to link air pollution to changes in the structure and function of the human gut microbiome – the collection of trillions of microorganisms residing within us. The research found, with young adults exposed to higher levels of ozone showing less microbial diversity and more of certain species associated with obesity and disease.

“We know from previous research that air pollutants can have a whole host of adverse health effects,” said study senior author Tanya Alderete, Assistant Professor at University of Colorado Boulder in the US. “The takeaway from this paper is that some of those effects might be due to changes in the gut,” Alderete added.

Worldwide, according to research published this month, air pollution kills 8.8 million people annually – more than smoking or war. While much attention has been paid to respiratory health, Alderete’s previous studies have shown pollution can also impair the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar and influence risk for obesity.

Other research has shown visits to emergency rooms for gastrointestinal problems spike on high pollution days, and youth with high exposure to traffic exhaust have greater risk of developing Crohn’s disease. To investigate just what might be going on inside the gut, the research team used cutting-edge whole-genome sequencing to analyse fecal samples from 101 young adults in Southern California.

The researchers looked at data from air-monitoring stations near the subjects’ addresses to calculate their previous-year exposure to ozone (which forms when emissions from vehicles are exposed to sunlight), particulate matter (hazardous particles suspended in the air), and nitrous oxide (a toxic byproduct of burning fossil fuel).

Of all the pollutants measured, ozone had the greatest impact on the gut by far, accounting for about 11 per cent of the variation seen between study subjects – more of an impact than gender, ethnicity or even diet. Those with higher exposure to ozone also had less variety of bacteria living in their gut, according to the study.

“This is important since lower (bacteria) diversity has been linked with obesity and Type 2 diabetes,” noted Alderete. Subjects with higher exposure to ozone also had a greater abundance of a specific species called Bacteroides caecimuris.

Air Pollution, Global Warming, Mask, Doctor, Protection
Breathing dirty air takes a heavy toll on gut bacteria, boosting risk of obesity, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders and other chronic illnesses, a new study revealed. Pixabay

That’s important, because some studies have associated high levels of Bacteroides with obesity. In all, the researchers identified 128 bacterial species influenced by increased ozone exposure. Some may impact the release of insulin, the hormone responsible for ushering sugar into the muscles for energy.

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Other species can produce metabolites, including fatty acids, which help maintain gut barrier integrity and ward off inflammation, the researchers said. “Ozone is likely changing the environment of your gut to favour some bacteria over others, and that can have health consequences,” Alderete concluded. (IANS)

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Physical Abuse During Childhood May Lead To Heavy Cigarette Use: Study

The researchers used their responses about smoking between the ages of 12 and 18 to identify three patterns of cigarette use

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Cigarettes
Adolescent cigarette smoking is a really serious social problem and public health concern. Pixabay

Researchers have found that children who have been abused, mistreated or neglected at home are more likely to start smoking cigarette and other substances.

The study, published in the journal Substance Use & Misuse, showed that physical abuse of children in high-risk homes, especially when they’re toddlers or teens, dramatically increases the odds that their adolescent experimentation with cigarettes will lead to a heavy smoking habit.

For the findings, the study examined data on children who were at high risk for abuse and neglect — either because they had been referred to a child protective service or lived in conditions associated with the likelihood of maltreatment or both. “I wanted to look at different types of maltreatment and whether they have an impact on cigarette smoking,” said study lead author Susan Yoon, Assistant Professor at Ohio State University in the US.

“Adolescent cigarette smoking is a really serious social problem and public health concern. Brain development is not complete until late adolescence or during young adulthood, and cigarette smoking is associated with damage in brain development,” Yoon said.

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“We also know that those who start smoking cigarettes during adolescence are more likely to continue smoking into adulthood,” Yoon added. For the results, the research team used data on 903 adolescents, who were assessed at age 12, 16 and 18.

A breakdown of different types of abuse and neglect experienced by the sample population during three different time periods (early childhood, school age and adolescence) confirmed how vulnerable these kids were.

The researchers used their responses about smoking between the ages of 12 and 18 to identify three patterns of cigarette use: stable low/no use (61 per cent of respondents), gradually increasing use (30 per cent) and sharply increasing cigarette use (nine per cent).

“It was almost shocking how the pattern of cigarette use over time went up so drastically in the sharply increasing use class,” Yoon said.

Smoking
Researchers have found that children who have been abused, mistreated or neglected at home are more likely to start smoking cigarettes and other substances. Pixabay

“They were pretty similar to the others at age 12 — almost 80 percent didn’t smoke. At age 16, we saw that almost 60 per cent had used cigarettes more than 20 days in the past year and by 18, every single kid in this group reported heavy use of cigarettes,” Yoon added.

A statistical analysis showed that adolescents who experienced early childhood physical abuse were 2.3 times more likely to be in the sharply increasing cigarette use group compared with the stable no/low group. Physical abuse during adolescence had an even stronger effect — this type of mistreatment at that point in life was linked to 3.7 times higher odds for sharply increased cigarette use. Adolescents who had been neglected during early childhood were 1.89 times more likely to be in the gradually increasing cigarette use group than in the stable no/low use group.

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About 40 per cent of these smokers had reported using cigarettes at age 16, and by age 18, more than 80 per cent were smokers, and about 40 per cent had smoked on more than 20 days in the previous year, the study said. (IANS)