The study was undertaken to investigate whether regular cooking with biomass aggravates systemic inflammation and oxidative stress that might result in increase in the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) in rural Indian women compared to cooking with a cleaner fuel like liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). A total of 635 women (median age 36 years) who cooked with biomass and 452 age-matched control women who cooked with LPG were enrolled. Serum interleukin-6 (IL-6), C-reactive protein (CRP), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and interleukin-8 (IL-8) were measured by ELISA. Generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) by leukocytes was measured by flow cytometry, and erythrocytic superoxide dismutase (SOD) was measured by spectrophotometry. Hypertension was diagnosed following the Seventh Report of the Joint Committee. Tachycardia was determined as pulse rate >100 beats per minute. Particulate matter of diameter less than 10 and 2.5 μm (PM₁₀ and PM₂.₅, respectively) in cooking areas was measured using real-time aerosol monitor. Compared with control, biomass users had more particulate pollution in indoor air, their serum contained significantly elevated levels of IL-6, IL-8, TNF-α and CRP, and ROS generation was increased by 37% while SOD was depleted by 41.5%, greater prevalence of hypertension and tachycardia compared to their LPG-using neighbors. PM₁₀ and PM₂.₅ levels were positively associated with markers of inflammation, oxidative stress and hypertension. Inflammatory markers correlated with raised blood pressure. Cooking with biomass exacerbates systemic inflammation, oxidative stress, hypertension and tachycardia in poor women cooking with biomass fuel and hence, predisposes them to increased risk of CVD development compared to the controls. Systemic inflammation and oxidative stress may be the mechanistic factors involved in the development of CVD.
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