Taking B Vitamins May Protect Against Epigenetic Effects of Air Pollution, Study Finds

By Lisa Franchi on March 16, 2017

Researchers from Columbia University found that vitamin B plays a critical role in reducing the impact of air pollution on the epigenome. The study was conducted in collaboration with the researchers from Harvard’s T. H. Chan School of Public Health, in Sweden, China, Singapore, Mexico and Canada. 

92 per cent of the world’s population currently lives in places where air quality levels exceed the limit set by the World Health Organization. 

"Our study launches a line of research for developing preventive interventions to minimize the adverse effects of air pollution on potential mechanistic markers. Because of the central role of epigenetic modifications in mediating environmental effects, our findings could very possibly be extended to other toxicants and environmental diseases." said Andrea Baccarelli, MD, PhD, professor and chair of Environmental Health Sciences at the Mailman School. 

According to the lead researchers Jia Zhong, "The health effects of air pollution and how it plays a role in one’s health raise many complex issues,"  

"Until we can attack the problem on an individual level we are a long way from fully tackling its challenges for the public’s health."

The study involved healthy non-smokers, 18 to 60 years old, who were not taking any medicines or vitamin supplements. The researchers administered one placebo or B-vitamin supplement daily to each of the participants.

“As individuals, we have limited options to protect ourselves against air pollution. Future studies, especially in heavily polluted areas, are urgently needed to validate our findings and ultimately develop preventive interventions using B vitamins to contain the health effects of air pollution.” said Andrea Baccarelli, MD, PhD, professor and chair of Environmental Health Sciences at the Mailman School.

The study was published in the journal PNAS.

Source of this article:

B vitamins attenuate the epigenetic effects of ambient fine particles in a pilot human intervention trial, PNAS,

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