Research Links Air Pollution to Weaker Bones and Osteoporosis

Research Links Air Pollution to Weaker Bones and Osteoporosis

Two recently conducted studies have found a link between osteoporosis and long term exposure to air pollution. Results of both studies have been published in journal The Lancet Planetary Health. The studies were joint effort of researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, New England Research Institute, Northwestern University, the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health.

For the first study, research team analyzed health records for 9.2 million Medicare enrollees in age group 65 years and above. The team found that individuals living in regions with higher concentration of small particulate matter, had 4.1 percent higher risk of suffering from osteoporosis-related bone fracture. The study team also noticed difference in results for individuals living in low-income regions. The risk was 7.6 percent higher.

As per CDC data, nearly two million people suffer from osteoporosis-related bone fracture each year in the United States. Air pollution also leads to other health related issues and long term exposure to air pollution has been termed as a major health risk by many studies conducted recently.

The research team checked medical data for 692 middle-aged low-income men from the Boston area for the second study. The research team found that individuals living in regions with high concentration of particulate matter, had lower blood levels of parathyroid hormone (a hormone that helps regulate calcium levels in the blood and rebuilding bone) and more bone loss over time in their femurs (thigh bone) and radii (a lower arm bone).

Study teams concluded that exposure to high levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in the atmosphere could accelerate bone density loss and increase the risk of fracture.

The researchers also found that participants in the study had greater decreases in bone density than men exposed to lower levels of these pollutants.

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