Research: BERNARD and colleagues, G

Listed in Issue 32

Abstract

BERNARD and colleagues, Groupe dEpidemiologie Metabolique, Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale, Montpellier, France, studied exposure to nitrogen dioxide and its effect upon blood antioxidant levels.

Background

Methodology

The personal exposure of 107 volunteers was measured for 14 days using passive monitors. Heavy smokers, >10 cigarettes per day were excluded. Environmental and sociodemographic data and intake of beta-carotene were also recorded.

Results

The mean nitrogen dioxide personal exposure 0.017 ppm was attributed mainly to place of residence in the city, time spent in city traffic and the use of gas stoves. The correlation between nitrogen dioxide exposure and blood antioxidant concentration was weak and there were inconsistent correlation coefficients for men and women. However, The authors found evidence of an interaction between beta-carotene intake and nitrogen dioxide exposure . There were significantly lower plasma levels of beta-carotene in people who consumed < or = 4.5 mg/day beta-carotene and who were exposed to nitrogen dioxide levels > 0.021 ppm nitrogen dioxide.

Conclusion

There is an interaction between beta-carotene antioxidant consumption, exposure to nitrogen dioxide and subsequent plasma levels of beta-carotene.

References

Bernard N et al. Personal exposure to nitrogen dioxide pollution and effect on plasma antioxidants. Arch Environ Health 53(2): 122-8. Mar-Apr 1998.

Comment

It is almost universally known that diet has a profound effect upon health, the ability to ward off infection and fight exposure to noxious chemicals. Yet few of us eat enough fresh fruits and vegetables. The problem is that as a society, we have all been exposed to unhealthy yet delicious foods ice cream, chocolate, chips, cream cakes, to name but a few. Hence the campaigns of some food manufacturers to tempt youngsters to eat brocolli and carrots by flavouring them with chocolate. This is a tough nut to crack, but something must be done or the population, in addition to being unfit and overweight, will be frankly unhealthy as well.

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