NOV 14, 2017 9:57 AM PST

Air pollution can cause osteoporosis-fractures

You can now add osteoporosis to the long list of negative medical impacts caused by air pollution. New research published in The Lancet Planetary Health reports that exposure to air pollution is associated with osteoporosis-related loss of bone mineral density and risk of bone fractures.

The team of scientists from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health looked at public health in communities that showed high levels of ambient particulate matter (PM 2.5), a component of air pollution. They documented hospital admissions for bone fractures and determined that an increase in PM 2.5 concentrations correlates with more bone fractures in older adult populations.

"Decades of careful research has documented the health risks of air pollution, from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, to cancer, and impaired cognition, and now osteoporosis," says Andrea Baccarelli, senior author of the study. "Among the many benefits of clean air, our research suggests, are improved bone health and a way to prevent bone fractures."

Osteoporosis can be a chilling condition and holds the prize for the most common reason of a fracture in older populations. Those with the disease suffer from brittle and weak bones due to a loss of bone mass as the body ages. This results in roughly 2 million osteoporosis-related bone fractures in the U.S. every year which cost upwards of $20 billion. Osteoporosis-related fractures can greatly impact older people’s lives; some studies report that risk for death increases by as much as 20 percent, and only 40 percent of those who had fractures regain their independence.

Photo: wiseGEEK

The findings from the study are particularly frightening because of the implications that they have for low-income populations. Low-income communities already suffer disproportionately from the effects of environmental waste and pollution. After following 692 middle-aged, low-income adults in the Boston Area Community Health/Bone Survey cohort for eight years, those living in areas with higher levels of PM2.5 and black carbon (a component of air pollution from automotive emissions) showed negative health impacts from the exposure to pollution. The participants had lower levels of parathyroid hormone, a hormone that regulates calcium and bone remodeling, as well as higher reductions in bone mineral density.

According to Science Daily, the study also explains that PM 2.5 additionally causes systemic oxidative damage and inflammation, which itself could accelerate bone loss. It adds that smoking, too, has shown to also increase bone damage.

Sources: Science DailyScience Direct

About the Author
BA Environmental Studies
Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
AUG 04, 2022
Technology
The greatest semiconductor of all time?
AUG 04, 2022
The greatest semiconductor of all time?
In a recent study published in Science, a team of researchers claim that cubic boron arsenide is the greatest semiconduc ...
AUG 13, 2022
Plants & Animals
Phosphorus Deficiencies Limit Plant Growth in the Amazon
AUG 13, 2022
Phosphorus Deficiencies Limit Plant Growth in the Amazon
One key nutrient plants need to thrive and survive is CO2, which is why plants have been a vital part of maintaining pla ...
AUG 17, 2022
Earth & The Environment
The Wreck of The Endurance Has Been Discovered in Antarctica
AUG 17, 2022
The Wreck of The Endurance Has Been Discovered in Antarctica
The expedition of Endurance was one of the legends. It is one of the most harrowing survival stories in naval history.
AUG 21, 2022
Technology
Biomaterial Inks Can Imitate Human Tissue Characteristics
AUG 21, 2022
Biomaterial Inks Can Imitate Human Tissue Characteristics
In a recent study published in ACS Nano, a team of researchers at Texas A&M University have designed a new class of ...
AUG 24, 2022
Plants & Animals
Threat Assessment of U.S Trees Provides Blueprint for Conservation Efforts
AUG 24, 2022
Threat Assessment of U.S Trees Provides Blueprint for Conservation Efforts
Extinction rates have accelerated around the globe. Changes in climate and habitat loss, in particular, are driving more ...
SEP 21, 2022
Neuroscience
What We Can Learn From Brain Asymmetry
SEP 21, 2022
What We Can Learn From Brain Asymmetry
A study published in eLife examined the subtle differences in functional organization between the left and right side of ...
Loading Comments...