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Vehicle emissions affect your cholesterol


As if vehicle emissions weren’t bad enough for our atmosphere and well known to affect a plethora of health aspects in us humans, US researchers and scientist have found yet another ill effect of tailpipe emissions.

They have discovered that breathing vehicle tailpipe emissions can turn ‘good’ cholesterol into ‘bad’ cholesterol, thus contributing to the clogging and gardening of arteries and the other myriad of health related problems.

A team from the University of California in Los Angeles has shown through experimenting on mice that just two weeks of exposure to emission particles caused blood and liver damage that did not reverse after a week of receiving filtered air.

The experiments from UCLA, as well as other institutions, have shown that vehicle emissions can trigger a change in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol – HDL – thus altering its properties to protect the cardiovascular system.

During the experimentation, the mice were exposed to diesel exhaust for a few hours a day, for several days a week, at a particle mass concentration within the range that mine workers are usually exposed to.

Blood and tissue specimens were checked for the protective antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol and they found that many of the positive properties of HDL were considerably altered after exposure to the air-pollutant. The mice were found to have a significantly decreased ability to protect against oxidation and inflammation induced by the ‘bad’ low-density lipoprotein cholesterol – LDL.

The thing is, we all knew that tailpipe pollutants are bad but this is the first study to show that they lead to the development of dysfunctional, pro-oxidative HDL cholesterol and the activation of an internal oxidation pathway, thus making air pollution an active contributor to the clogging of arteries.

The experiment was indeed done under some extreme circumstances, meaning that there are no ways of truly knowing what exposure to say, a dense urban environment, would be, but it is clear that it is anything but healthy, and furthermore it should be noted that the damage induced during the exposure will continue long after the exposure ends, if it ends.

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