Originally published April 29 2015
Air pollution linked to anxiety symptoms covered up by mind-damaging psych drugs
by Amy Goodrich
(NaturalNews) That toxic, smoggy air can harm physical health is nothing new or surprising. It has repeatedly been linked to chronic inflammation and an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer. New studies, however, suggest that air pollution negatively impacts not only our physical health but mental well-being as well.
Two new studies published on March 24 in The BMJ (British Medical Journal) shine a new light on how pollution may negatively affect our health and happiness.
In the first study,(1) Researchers at the University of Edinburgh analyzed 103 observational studies, conducted in 28 different countries around the globe, looking for a link between air pollution and cardiovascular health.
Stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide, killing around 5 million people each year. According to the scientists at the Edinburgh University, common risk factors of a stroke include obesity, smoking and high blood pressure, but clear evidence of environmental factors such as air pollution is nonexistent at the moment.
After analyzing the 103 studies in depth, they had to conclude that there was a "clear association" between air pollution and people's short-term risk of having or dying from a stroke or heart attack.
According to the study, low- to middle-income countries experienced the strongest associations, compared to high-income countries. They also believe that for vulnerable people, such as elderly or people with pre-existing heart issues, heavy air pollution may cause chronic inflammation and trigger a stroke or heart attack.
In another study,(2) researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Harvard University tried to find the answer to the question of whether air pollution may be related to anxiety, which affects around 16% of our population at some point in their life.
They investigated more than 70,000 women, aged 57 to 85 years, enrolled in the US Nurses' Health Study. The study concluded that around 15% showed high symptoms of anxiety, which could be linked to exposure to fine particle pollution coming from cars and industrial sources.
They believe that air pollution may worsen or trigger anxiety attacks through free radical damage and inflammation or deteriorate an existing health condition which can make people more anxious or depressed.
A press release(3) regarding the two studies released by The BMJ states:
In an accompanying editorial, Michael Brauer from the University of British Columbia, Canada, writes that these studies "confirm the urgent need to manage air pollution globally as a cause of ill health" and that reducing "air pollution could be a cost effective way to reduce the large burden of disease from both stroke and poor mental health."
Although the answers found in these studies clearly associates air pollution to stroke and anxiety symptoms, both studies were observational and don't prove that air pollution is the direct link.
Melinda Power, a researcher at Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, who led the anxiety study, and her team included many other factors that could contribute to anxiety in their study. But she says that we have to be careful with the conclusion we draw from this, because there could be tons of other explanations.
"I think some of the most likely alternative explanations would be other forms of pollution," she noted. CBS News reported that she mentioned chronic noise from traffic as one possibility.
"It's too soon to declare that better air quality could help ease anxiety symptoms," Power stressed, "But it's an interesting finding," she said. "And studies need to look further into the association between air pollution and mental health."
So while most anxiety symptoms are covered up by mind-damaging psych drugs, the answer may simply be a reduction in air pollution.
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