Aspirin may reduce harmful effects of air pollution on lungs

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A recent study by Dr Xu Gao and colleagues has looked at the relationship between lung function and the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (which include aspirin) in 2,280 veterans. The researchers then compared this with air pollution data from the previous month in their hometown of greater Boston. Other factors, including whether or not the participant was a smoker were also taken into consideration.

The study found that NSAIDs nearly halved the effect of particulate matter (all solid and liquid particles suspended in air) on lung function. The mechanism by which this protection happens is unknown, but may be due to NSAIDS reducing inflammation in the lung caused by pollution. As most of the participants in the study were taking aspirin, this effect was deemed to be predominantly due to aspirin, but the effect of other NSAIDs would be useful to study.

These results show that aspirin may be useful in the short-term protection of lungs against air pollution. However, air pollution contributes to a number of other harmful bodily effects so it is still important to minimise overall exposure.

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