Doctors have warned dieters for decades to watch what they eat to stall the development of heart trouble, but a new study suggests air pollution may also contribute to heart disease.
A release from the American Heart Association said the results from the study show that car exhaust can hamper the body's production of high-density lipoprotein (HDL).
According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, HDL cholesterol is thought to filter more dangerous forms of cholesterol from the bloodstream.
The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the Environmental Protection Agency and others, focused on measuring HDL levels after exposure to air pollution.
During the yearlong investigation, the black carbon commonly found in highway-generated air pollution led to lower HDL readings in both men and women, but with greater impact found in women.
The study’s primary author, Griffith Bell of Seattle's University of Washington School of Public Health, said lower HDL levels can predispose people to developing heart disease later in life.
“Our study helps strengthen the biological plausibility of the link between traffic-related air pollution and cardiovascular disease,” Bell said in the release. “We're slowly beginning to understand some of the biology of how that link works.”
Bell cautioned that further study is necessary to firmly establish the link between airborne pollution and cholesterol because this study examined data at a single point in time.