HealthDay News — Adherence to a Mediterranean diet is associated with an attenuation in the effects of air pollution, according to a study presented at the American Thoracic Society’s 2018 International Conference, held from May 18 to 23 in San Diego.

Chris C. Lim, from NYU School of Medicine in New York City, and colleagues examined whether adherence to a Mediterranean diet modifies the correlation between long-term exposure to ambient air pollution and cause-specific mortality in a prospective cohort involving 548,699 adults across 6 states and 2 cities in the United States. Participants were followed for 17 years from 1995 to 2011. Based on dietary questionnaires, the alternative Mediterranean Diet Index was used to assess conformity with a Mediterranean-style diet. 

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The researchers found that 126,835 people died during follow-up. With adherence to a Mediterranean diet, there were significant air pollution-mortality attenuations for nitrous oxide (NO2) with all-cause mortality, fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and NO2 with cardiovascular disease mortality, and PM2.5 and NO2 with ischemic heart disease mortality.

“Given the benefits we found of a diet high in antioxidants, our results are consistent with the hypothesis that particle air pollution caused by fossil fuel combustion adversely affects health by inducing oxidative stress and inflammation,” a coauthor said in a statement. “On the other hand, the ozone effect was not significantly blunted by a Mediterranean diet, so ozone apparently affects cardiac health through a different mechanism.”

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