Nanoplastics linked to heart attack, stroke and early death, study finds – CNN

Microplastics with a diameter of 0.5 μm (small green spheres) penetrating the cytoplasm of MH-22a hepatocyte cells. (by Karimov Denis and Valova Iana, captured by ZEISS Axio Imager 2, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia).
Microplastics with a diameter of 0.5 μm (small green spheres) penetrating the cytoplasm of MH-22a hepatocyte cells. (by Karimov Denis and Valova Iana, captured by ZEISS Axio Imager 2, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia).

People with microplastics or nanoplastics in their carotid artery tissues were twice as likely to have a heart attack, stroke or die from any cause over the next three years than people who had none, a new study found.

Carotid arteries, which lie on each side of the neck and carry blood to the brain, can become clogged with fatty cholesterol plaques in a similar fashion as the arteries leading into the heart, a process known as atherosclerosis.

“To date, our study is the first that associated the plastic contamination with human diseases,” said Raffaele Marfella, lead author of the study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“Our data must be confirmed by other studies and on larger populations,” said Marfella, professor of internal medicine and director of the department of medical and surgical sciences at the University of Campania Luigi Vanvitelli in Naples, Italy, in an email. “However, our study convincingly highlights the presence of plastics and their association with cardiovascular events in a representative population affected by atherosclerosis.”

Pediatrician Dr. Philip Landrigan, professor of biology at Boston College and director of the Program for Global Public Health and the Common Good and the Global Observatory on Planetary Health, said the study provided evidence that tiny plastics may be associated with cardiovascular disease outcomes in humans.

“Although we do not know what other exposures may have contributed to the adverse outcomes among patients in this study, the finding of microplastics and nanoplastics in plaque tissue is itself a breakthrough discovery that raises a series of urgent questions,” Landrigan wrote in an accompanying editorial.

“Should exposure to microplastics and nanoplastics be considered a cardiovascular risk factor? What organs in addition to the heart may be at risk? How can we reduce exposure?” asked Landrigan, who was not involved in the new study.

“What is widely known is that many plastics from bicycle helmets and blood bags to drinking water pipes and wind turbines help protect us, improve healthcare outcomes, and contribute to a more sustainable world,” said Kimberly Wise White, vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs for the American Chemistry Council, an industry association.

To help reduce new sources of microplastic in our environment, plastic makers have a goal for all US plastic packaging to be reused, recycled, or recovered by 2040. To get there, we’re investing billions of dollars in infrastructure improvements and advocating for effective policies to help collect and recycle more used plastics to keep them from entering our environment in the first place,” Wise White said in an email…

Nick Paton Walsh explains how everyday plastic items can break down to enter the food chain, our drinking water and possibly our bodies (CNN 11-30–2016)

See also:

Microscopic plastics could raise risk of stroke and heart attack, study says

– the Guardian (03-06-2024)

Scientists link tiny particles in blood vessels with substantially higher risk of death

Doctors have warned of potentially life-threatening effects from plastic pollution after finding a substantially raised risk of stroke, heart attack and earlier death in people whose blood vessels were contaminated with microscopic plastics.

Researchers in Naples examined fatty plaques removed from the blood vessels of patients with arterial disease and found that more than half had deposits contaminated with tiny particles of polyethylene or polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

Those whose plaques contained microplastics or nanoplastics were nearly five times more likely to suffer a stroke, heart attack or death from any cause over the following 34 months, compared with those whose plaques were free from plastic contamination.

The findings do not prove that plastic particles drive strokes and heart attacks – people who are more exposed to the pollution may be at greater risk for other reasons – but research on animals and human cells suggests the particles may be to blame.

“Our data will dramatically impact cardiovascular health if confirmed because we are defenceless against plastic pollution,” said Dr Raffaele Marfella, first author on the study at the University of Campania Luigi Vanvitelli in Naples. “The only defence we have available today is prevention by reducing plastic production…”

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