The headline article in this morning’s local newspaper, The Houston Chronicle, announced yet another finding learned from the Women’s Health Intitiative (WHI) study. I have discussed this study on numerous occasions before in my websites, varous articles and my books.
The WHI is turning into the next great study that will supplant the Framingham Study, which was the main study followed for the last 40 years on heart disease in Framingham, Massachusetts. The Framingham study is the one where all of our cholesterol recommendations came from. The WHI study is also the one that rocked the world in 2002, 2003 and 2004 with revelations on the nasty side effects of synthetic, chemically altered hormones found in HRT (hormone replacement therapy) and in birth control pills.
Back to the WHI: Analysis of data from the large number of women that participated in the study indicated that women living in cities high in air pollutants died of heart ailments 76% more than those who lived in cleaner areas.
The report was collected from data supplied by the WHI which was originally set up in 1993. As many as 160,000 post-menopausal women participated in the study. The sub-group for the heart study was made up of nearly 66,000 women. It was studied for heart deaths relating to three dozen cities with fine air pollution particles.
The conclusion was made after factoring out physical activity and weight. Because of the study group size, the conclusions of nearly double the death rate from heart disease from living in urban areas with air pollution was definitive according to the study authors.
Fine particles in air pollution are about 35 times smaller than a very fine grain of beach sand. These circulate in the air and we breathe them in certain urban areas. Once in the lungs, they act as a source of inflammation. Asthma in children is already an epidemic in some areas. To cause nearly a doubling of the death rate from heart attacks should not be a surprise.
This report made the Houston paper front page news because Houston is located just north of the nation’s densest areas of oil refineries and one of the busiest ports in the world.
Frankly, no one should be surprised by these results. Anyone with common sense can just walk outside and smell the air. Sometimes it stinks pretty bad for those folks south of town. They have been complaining for years.
What is amazing is how well the human body performs despite breathing dirty air for several decades. It really should be worse. It is not just Houston, it is in 30 other cities, too. You know it if you live in one of them. Most of the U.S. population probably resides in those 30 cities.
The finger pointing has been going on for some time. The blame game is well established between industry on the ground, automobile manufacturers, no growth advocates and government planners who want to run people’s lives. That politics is not likely to change anytime soon because of seismic costs that no one wants to pay.
But what I don’t see discussed are some options that individuals can make right now. These will never be discussed in the mainstream press nor medical literature. But anti-oxidants supplements, vitamins and the whole industry of nutraceuticals can have an enormous effect if you start taking them now.
There are an amazing array of products out there that mainstream medicine dismisses with arrogance that can help you combat whatever you are exposed to in the environment. Not everyone can live in pristine conditions.
I have no affiliation with anyone producing these products, but my family and I do take them ourselves. I personally take over 30 pills containing these supplements every day. Some may or may not work as advertised, but who has 30 years to wait and find out?
Once you get chronic lung disease or heart disease, it is too late. Do your homework and start now.
At the Women’s Health Institute of Texas we advocate numerous vitamins and supplements for our patients. Even though we have specific treatment plans for our migraine headache patients, we also recommend that everyone, regardless of health condition, gender or where they live, start taking a number of supplements.
Andrew Jones, M.D.
Medical Director, Women’s Health Institute of Texas