Love to eat barbecue food? Beware, eating foods cooked on wood and charcoal is linked to higher risk of respiratory disease or death.
Compared to those who used electricity or gas, chronic and acute respiratory disease hospitalizations or deaths were 36 percent higher among those who used wood or coal for cooking, researchers, from the University of Oxford, have found.
‘Solid fuels release high levels of pollutants especially tiny particles, which penetrate deep into lungs. Hence, consuming foods cooked on wood and charcoal may raise the respiratory disease risk or even cause death.’
People who switched from solid fuels to clean-burning fuels reduced their risk to only 14 percent higher than those who never cooked with wood or coal.
It is because solid fuels emit very high levels of pollutants especially very small particles, which penetrate deep into lungs, the researchers explained.
"The increased risk of major respiratory diseases posed by burning wood or coal can be significantly lowered by switching to a clean-burning fuel," said Zhengming Chen, a professor at the varsity's Nuffield Department of Population Health.
"Our findings make a compelling case to speed up the global implementation of universal access to affordable, clean energy, one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals," Chen said.
Nearly three billion people around the world live in households that regularly burn wood, coal or other solid fuels to cook their food.
Typically, these households are found in the rural areas of low- and middle-income countries.
For the study, published in the journal American Thoracic Society
, the team analyzed the health records of 280,000 adults, aged 30 to 79 from 10 areas of China.
They were followed for nine years, and 19,823 were either hospitalized or died following major respiratory diseases.
Of these events, 10,553 were due to asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and 7,324 were due to acute lower respiratory infections, most often pneumonia.