Tobacco smoke as well as other pollutants do more than just pollute the atmosphere. They can also harm the body by altering immune cells. Children as young as six years old may be at risk for high blood pressure because of some medications. That’s what three new studies have concluded.
Together, they demonstrate that the dangers of breathing polluted air extend beyond the lungs. The body’s ability to fight off infection is also jeopardised.
In one study, researchers looked at 221 Fresno-area children under the age of 18. One of the most polluted cities in the United States is located in central California. According to Mary Prunicki, this same American Lung Association “gets F’s all the time” in its annual State of a Air report. Stanford University in California is where she works as an immunologist.
It was particularly interested in how air pollution affects the health of children. So they drew blood and measured the kids’ blood pressure in Fresno. Each was between the ages of six and eight. Additionally, the researchers gathered data from air pollution monitoring stations. Thus, they were able to ascertain the amount of pollution that each child had inhaled.
The DNA in immune cells of children exposed to higher levels of pollution showed chemical changes. Adding a chemical group to the formula resulted in the changes. These chemical groups function as genetic switches once they are in place. Epigenetic means “above” the gene. This is due to the fact that they have an effect on the way genes function without altering one‘s DNA. Inheritance of epigenetic changes can occur later in life.
It discovered epigenetic alterations in four genes involved immunity. In addition, the white blood cells in the blood of these children were significantly reduced. Even more worrying is the fact that this is a bad sign. White blood cells are produced by the body to aid in the fight against infection and also to rid the body of toxins.
Furthermore, children who had inhaled higher levels of air pollutants had higher blood pressure. This indicates that their arteries had become more rigid. Your heart may have to pump more blood as a result. And this increases the risk of heart failure in people.
Changes Linked To Fires Can Be Seen
Ozone and nitrogen monoxide, two of the most common pollutants in many urban areas, can be found in wildfires. The blood of those who had been affected by the Camp Fire in November 2018 was the subject of a second, new study. This was California’s deadliest ever wildfire.
A particular subtype of white venous cell was the subject of this investigation. Innate immune cells are the first responders of the immune system. A collection of these cells from the bone marrow was examined by the researchers. Dendritic cells, which are constantly moving through the gut lining, were also examined by the researchers. Chemical messengers are spewed whenever they detect a foreign invader. Angela Haczku explains that these molecules tell this same immune system “something bad is going on.” At the University of Southern california, Davis, she is a physician-scientist who specialises in the treatment of cardiovascular disease.
Immune cells exhibited molecular changes indicative of inflammatory response or an allergic reaction during the wildfire season. Melissa Teuber, one of helen graduate students, presented their findings just at American Academy of Allergic response, Asthma & Immunology’s annual meeting on February 27. This year’s conference was held online.
For at least two months, the changes in the immune system were evident. Within next 2 to 4 weeks, they were back to normal.
Similarities Between Cigarette Smoke And Its Effects On The Human Body
Some of the Fresno children’s immune cells reacted immediately to certain pollutants. Other cells didn’t show any changes for weeks or months. Some of these adjustments may or may not persist into adulthood. Aside from that, no one knows for certain whether or not moving to a neighbourhood with cleaner air will restore a person’s immune system to its previous state.
Asthma and allergens disease are more common in people who have been exposed to air pollution for a long period of time. It can also shorten your life expectancy. Another cause of air pollution is cigarette smoking. A third study looked into the relationship between it and children’s blood pressure.
The researchers analysed data from 8,520 children in the United States who participated in a national survey on health. The youngest was just eight years old. Up to 19-year-olds were among the group. Cotinine levels in the blood were measured in the study (KOH-tih-neen). It is a byproduct of the breakdown of nicotine in tobacco. Besides the fact that some of the children had did smoke, lived with a smoker, or had hypertension, the researchers also took note of this.
High blood pressure was more common in young smokers than in children who were only exposed to secondhand smoke. In fact, Rebecca Levy found that all children with cotinine byproducts were at risk of developing high blood pressure. In New York City, she’s a kidney physician at Montefiore Medical Center, where she led the study. It didn’t matter if the children themselves smoked or had simply been exposed to smokers; this was the case.