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HomeMedicineCardiologyRisk factors for heart disease include cooking with coal, wood, or charcoal 

Risk factors for heart disease include cooking with coal, wood, or charcoal 

A recent study, presented at the 2018 European Society of Cardiology Congress, discussed their findings on how cooking with coal, wood, or charcoal are risk factors for heart disease and mortality.

A recent study led by Dr. Derrick Bennett and Professor Zhengming Chen from the University of Oxford in England investigated the potential adverse effects of cooking with solid fuels, including coal, wood, or charcoal.

The authors recruited 341,730 adults, aged 30-79, from ten areas across China between 2004 and 2008. Each participant was interviewed to determine the duration and extent of exposure to solid fuels. Over the entire study period, there were 8,304 deaths associated with cardiovascular disease.

The results demonstrated that a longer exposure to solid fuels was associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular death. Specifically, participants that were exposed to solid fuels for over 30 years had a 12% greater risk of cardiovascular death compared to those with less than 10 years of exposure.

After adjusting for other factors that may affect the associations, such as education, smoking, and other cardiovascular risk factors, they found that each decade of exposure to solid fuels was associated with a 3% greater risk of cardiovascular death.

Additionally, the study found that adopting cleaner fuels, including electricity and gas, was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular death. Participants that decided to adopt cleaner fuel a decade earlier were at a 5% lower risk of cardiovascular death.

In conclusion, the authors demonstrated that the use of solid fuels for cooking is associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular death. Furthermore, they showed that switching over to cleaner fuels reduced the risk of cardiovascular death, suggesting that the adverse effects of solid fuels may be reversible. Therefore, they recommend that people should consider switching over to either electricity or gas immediately.

Moving forward, it may be worth identifying the exact components of solid fuels that contribute to the increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death. It is possible that there are other sources for these dangerous chemicals, besides cooking fuel, that might be damaging our overall health.

Written by Haisam Shah, BSc

Reference: (2018). Cooking with coal, wood, or charcoal associated with cardiovascular death. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Sep. 2018].

Haisam Shah BSc
Haisam Shah BSc
Haisam is a first-year Masters student in the Department of Physiology at the University of Toronto. His research involves understanding the role of cardiac fibroblasts in the progressive development of cardiac fibrosis following a myocardial infarction. He graduated from McGill University with a Bachelors of Science – Honors in Pharmacology, where he had the opportunity of investigating potential combination therapies for Glioblastoma Multiforme.


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