According to researchers, street pollution can affect women more than men.
According to a study in which ten volunteers — five men and five women — were asked to inhale the fumes for four hours each, diesel exhaust appears to increase protein levels associated with cardiovascular disease.
The experiment was carried out on three different occasions one month apart with different concentrations of diesel.
In both sexes, the researchers found changes in blood components linked to inflammation, infection and cardiovascular disease, but women had higher protein levels linked to hardened arteries.
This can increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke — although a lot more research is needed to confirm this.
According to a study in which ten volunteers — five men and five women — were asked to inhale the fumes for four hours each, diesel exhaust appears to increase protein levels associated with cardiovascular disease
According to researchers, street pollution can affect women more than men. In both sexes, the researchers found changes in blood components linked to inflammation, infection and cardiovascular disease, but women had higher protein levels linked to hardened arteries
Professor Neeloffer Mookherjee, co-author of the study from the University of Manitoba in Canada, said: “These are preliminary results. However, they show that exposure to diesel exhaust has different effects on the female body.’
The results were presented at the International Congress of the European Respiratory Society in Barcelona.
Previous evidence has shown that women have a stronger immune response to substances that irritate their airways, such as house dust.
Compared to men, there is separate evidence that women appear to be more prone to respiratory infections and asthma.
The new study recruited healthy men and women who did not smoke.
They first spent four hours breathing clean, filtered air.
They then switched to diluted fumes from a diesel exhaust to determine the difference in the blood of the study participants after inhaling polluted air.
The experiment on the effects of pollution was conducted in three sessions, one month apart.
The men and women each inhaled diesel exhaust fumes for four hours – in different concentrations of 20, 50 and 150 micrograms per cubic liter of air.
These are all higher levels than have been observed on busy London roads, but indicate the effects of pollution on the body.
The volunteers each donated blood samples 24 hours after inhaling the diesel exhaust, then the researchers analyzed the liquid portion of the blood to look for changes in the levels of various proteins.
When comparing the plasma samples, the researchers found levels of 90 proteins that differed significantly between female and male subjects.
Among these proteins were some that are known to play roles in inflammation, damage repair, blood clotting, cardiovascular disease, and the immune system.
Some of these differences became more apparent when the volunteers were exposed to the higher levels of diesel exhaust.
Professor Zorana Andersen of the University of Copenhagen, who chairs the European Respiratory Society’s Environment and Health Committee and was not involved in the research, said: “This study offers some important insights into how the body reacts to diesel exhaust and how that can change differentiate between women and men.’
dr Samuel Cai, a lecturer in environmental epidemiology at the University of Leicester, said the findings should be interpreted with caution as they come from just 10 people exposed to short-term pollution that was not at real-world levels.
Although other stories show a stronger link between air pollution and respiratory diseases in women than in men, he said: “Gender and gender differences in air pollution and health studies are really complex because they involve many different aspects related to behaviour, occupation, physiology and psychological.” differences between the two sexes.
“Whether the effects are greater in a specific gender really depends on the type of air pollutant, the health outcomes being studied, and the study population, so I wouldn’t speculate too much at this point.”
Professor Chris Carlsten, co-author of the study from the University of British Columbia in Canada, said: “We believe this is very important as identifying vulnerable populations that may ‘go under’ in the averaging will lead to more stringent air quality can control.’