Blair Anderson, on the hustings 'canvassing for opinion'

Blair Anderson, on the hustings 'canvassing for opinion'

Monday, September 10, 2007

Diesel exhaust + high cholesterol = heart attack

STUDIES have long linked particulate matter from diesel exposure as cause for pulmonary diseases, such as asthma and emphysema. Now, include atherosclerosis.

The medical malady refers to the hardening of the arteries, which can inflame blood vessels and significantly increases one's risk for heart attack and stroke. A new UCLA study says that people with high cholesterol level should avoid diesel exhaust, otherwise they will be in pain due to clogged arteries.


(ed. also see Voice of America - Diesel Exhaust Plus Cholesterol Equals Cardiovascular Problems

According to the website of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA (, the July 26 edition of the online journal Genome Biology bares these findings, the first to explain how fine particles in air pollution conspire with artery-clogging fats to switch on the genes that cause blood vessel inflammation and lead to cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Andre Nel, chief of nanomedicine of the school and researcher at UCLA's California NanoSystems Institute, said, "When you add one plus one, it normally totals two. But we found that adding diesel particles to cholesterol fats equals three. Their combination creates a dangerous synergy that wreaks cardiovascular havoc far beyond what's caused by the diesel or cholesterol alone." In short, particulates are an independent risk factor that interacts with other risk factors, he said.

Until 2004, the American Heart Association did not acknowledge the link between particulate matter to heart disease because of defects in research and methodology. The new study is the first to examine genetic changes, especially tissue and cell damage, when a living organism is exposed to particulates. It involved 5,000 adults during an eight-year period and the findings showed that those who lived near a major road were more likely to die of a cardiovascular disease.

A previous research conducted at USC indicated that children in Long Beach face some of the highest levels of asthma and permanent damage to lung development in the region, caused by pollution coming from diesel fuel used by trains, ships, cargo conveyors and trucks doing business in the port. It was also learned during a workshop conducted by the California Wellness Foundation and New America Media that air pollution from the Long Beach/Los Angeles ports has an astoundingly high amount of pollutants equal to that generated daily by three million cars.

Dr. Nel said that how air pollutants cause cardiovascular injury is poorly understood "but we do know that these particles are coated with chemicals that damage tissue and cause inflammation of the nose and lungs. Vascular inflammation in turn leads to cholesterol deposits and clogged arteries, which can give rise to blood clots that trigger heart attack or stroke."

The researchers set up a scenario to investigate the interaction between diesel exhaust particles and the fatty acids found in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol --- the "bad" type of cholesterol that leads to artery blockage.

In particular, the team was interested in how oxidation --- cell and tissue damage resulting from exposure to molecules known as free radicals --- contributes to inflammation and artery disease. Free radicals enter the body through small particles present in polluted air and are also byproducts of normal processes, such as the metabolic conversion of food into energy.

(Curiously, and as many folk know, free radicals and the lipis fats associated with cannabis are linked, not thier danger, rather in their therapuetic efficacy and mediation of free radical impacts particularily those that are environmental. The 'herb' is also associated with mediating programmed cell death often as a consequence of oxygen stress from heart attack/stroke, head trauma, It is a rapid action vasodilator. Thats a start. This cannabis stuff sounds like a pretty conservative and useful medicine to me!. /Blair)

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