New research suggests that wearing masks may have adverse physiological and psychological effects on the general population. While the use of medical face masks by professionals has been mandatory in the healthcare setting for decades, their effectiveness in reducing the transmission of pathogens, especially viruses, has been debatable even before the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, face masks were made mandatory as a public health measure for the general population in many countries around the world, making them one of the most important universal lifestyle attributes that directly affect how we breathe.
Various volatile metabolites are produced through biochemical and metabolic pathways, and their concentrations in exhaled breath provide immediate physiological, metabolic, and pathological signs, with the possibility of monitoring various processes and interventions, including therapies. However, a recent observational study has reported continuous respiratory and hemodynamic changes along with corresponding alterations in exhaled volatile metabolites, raising significant concerns about the immediate, progressive, transient, and long-term side-effects of FFP2/N95 and surgical masks in adults at rest.
Although some systematic reviews regarding masks and their effects already exist, they are predominantly restricted to healthy and sportive individuals, and due to the exclusion of children, pregnant women, and diseased patients, the reviews do not provide sufficient evidence that masks can be safely used in the general population. In addition, other studies have not addressed the subjective prevalence of symptoms and discomfort during mask use and concomitant physical changes such as heat and temperature in detail.
Therefore, a comprehensive systematic review that includes young, old, healthy, and ill people to analyze the biochemical/metabolic, physical, physiological changes along with the appearance of subjective and clinical symptoms in face mask users from a clinician’s and physician’s holistic perspective is necessary. It is important to understand the impact of mask-wearing on the general population, as the compulsory wearing of masks for the entire population has provided good research conditions for studying the adverse effects of mask-wearing.
The study found significant physiological and psychological effects associated with wearing medical surgical and N95 masks, with N95 masks having a greater impact. These effects included decreased SpO2 (oxygen saturation levels in the blood), decreased minute ventilation (amount of air breathed in and out in one minute), increased blood-CO2 levels, increased heart rate, systolic blood pressure, skin temperature, and humidity. The study also found significant effects on exertion, discomfort, dyspnoea (difficulty breathing), heat, and humidity, as well as high prevalence rates of various symptoms including headache, acne, skin irritation, dyspnoea, heat, itching, voice disorder, and dizziness.
This raises the question, among other problems, of whether low oxygen levels in cells may be a primary cause of uncontrollable tumor growth in some cancers, according to a new study. The authors’ findings run counter to widely accepted beliefs that genetic mutations are responsible for cancer growth. You can find that study here: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120503194219.htm.
Since the pandemic, with mask-wearing now commonplace, there has been a sharp increase in cancer rates across the board. It’s important to note that we’re not implying causation, but simply asking the question. Given the findings of these studies, it would be wise to investigate whether there is a correlation between mask-wearing and higher cancer rates.
There will be much debate as to why cancer rates are rising; however, that point is secondary to this article. The author is only pointing out that one new study shows mask-wearing reduces the oxygen levels in your bloodstream, while another study links low oxygen levels to contributing to causing cancer.
Physio-metabolic and clinical consequences of wearing face masks—Systematic review with meta-analysis and comprehensive evaluation. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpubh.2023.1125150/full
Possible toxicity of chronic carbon dioxide exposure associated with face mask use, particularly in pregnant women, children, and adolescents – A scoping review. https://www.cell.com/heliyon/fulltext/S2405-8440(23)01324-5
Face mask recommendations in schools did not impact COVID-19 incidence among 10-12-year-olds in Finland – joinpoint regression analysis. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37085807/