Study links air pollution to osteoporosis
Air pollution has long been associated with health problems such as respiratory diseases, and has more recently even been linked to psychotic experiences. New research now reinforces the theory that it may also cause osteoporosis.
For the recent study, scientists from Spain's Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) assessed the outdoor air quality of 28 villages near the Indian city of Hyberabad. They were particularly interested in levels of suspended fine particulate matter and black carbon.
The researchers additionally analyzed the bone health of 3,717 residents of those villages. A technology known as dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry was used, to measure bone mass at the lumbar spine and the left hip.
The data was gathered over a four-year period, from 2009 to 2012. During that time, residents also completed questionnaires regarding the type of indoor cooking fuel they used.
It was ultimately found that the villagers' average annual exposure to airborne particles (measuring 2.5 micrometers or less) sat at 32.8 micrograms per cubic meter. This is far above the World Health Organisation's maximum recommended level of 10 micrograms.
Importantly, it was also noted that the higher a village's levels of outdoor air pollution, the lower its residents' bone mineral content and mineral density tended to be. There was no correlation, however, between bone mass and the use of biomass such as wood for cooking fuel.
"This study contributes to the limited and inconclusive literature on air pollution and bone health," says ISGlobal's Dr. Otavio T. Ranzani, first author of a paper on the research. "Inhalation of polluting particles could lead to bone mass loss through the oxidative stress and inflammation caused by air pollution."
The paper was recently published in the journal Jama Network Open.