Health In Focus
  • Solid fuels like coal, wood, and charcoal cold increase risk of death that occurs due to cardiovascular disease
  • The risk of cardiovascular diseases increased with more prolonged use of solid fuels and decreased with the use of clean fuels like electricity and gas
  • Switching to clean fuels is advisable, say the authors

Long-term exposure to coal, wood, or charcoal for cooking is associated with an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease, according to a study presented at ESC Congress.

Dr Derrick Bennett, study author, University of Oxford, UK, said: "Our study suggests that people who use solid fuels for cooking should switch to electricity or gas as soon as possible."
Cardiovascular Disease Risk Increases With Longer Association of Solid Fuel Cooking

Air pollution that is caused by cooking with solid fuels, such as coal, wood, or charcoal, could possibly lead to premature death from cardiovascular disease; however, the evidence is limited. Hence, the current study assessed the association between solid fuel used for cooking and cardiovascular death, as well as the possible impact of changing from solid to cleaner fuels like electricity or gas.


The study recruited 341,730 adults aged 30-79 years from ten areas of China from 2004 to 2008. The participants were of an average age of 51.7 years and were predominantly female (three-quarters).

The team interviewed the participants about how often they cooked and the primary fuel they had used at their three most recent homes.

The researchers then made an estimate of the duration of exposure of the participants to solid fuels.

They only analyzed data for those who did not have cardiovascular disease and who cooked at least weekly at their three most recent residences. The information on death rate up to 1 January 2017 was collected from hospital records and death registries.

Nine out of ten had spent at least 20 years in their three most recent residences. The number of people who had primarily used solid fuels for cooking varied.
  • 22.5% of participants had used it for 30 years or more
  • 24.6% of participants had used it for 10-29 years
  • 53.0% of participants had used it for less than 10 years (about half of this group had never used solid fuels in their most recent three homes the remaining half had switched from solid to clean fuels during this period)

The findings were -

  • During 3.4 million person-years (the actual time-at-risk in years) of follow-up, 8,304 participants died from cardiovascular disease
  • It was estimated that a decade of exposure to solid fuel was associated with a 3% higher risk of cardiovascular death after adjusting for education, smoking, and other cardiovascular risk factors
  • The risk of death due to cardiovascular disease was higher (12%) among participants who had used solid fuels for 30 years or longer than those who had used them for less than ten years
  • Using clean fuels resulted in a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease compared to persistent long-term use of solid fuels
  • Switching from solid to clean fuels earlier by every decade was associated with a 5% lower risk of cardiovascular death. Participants who had changed for ten years or longer had risks comparable to users who had always used only clean fuel
Professor Zhengming Chen, principal investigator, University of Oxford, UK, said: "We found that long-term use of solid fuels for cooking was associated with an excess risk of cardiovascular death, after accounting for established risk factors. Switching to electricity or gas weakened the impact of previous solid fuel use, suggesting that the negative association may be reversible."

Reference :
  1. Cooking with coal, wood, or charcoal associated with cardiovascular death
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Source: Medindia

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