Air pollution can worsen osteoporosis: study

Sticks and stones and pollution will break your bones.

The study, published in the journal Lancet Planetary Health this month, observed 9.2 million people across seven years and found that even small increases in air pollution correlated with an increase in hospital admissions for bone fractures.

A smaller analysis of 692 middle-aged, low-income adults in Boston saw that higher levels of pollution and black carbon left patients with lower parathyroid hormones — a hormone related to calcium and bone health — and lower bone mineral density than those in lesser polluted areas.

“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,” said senior author Dr. Andrea Baccarelli, of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, in the Telegraph.

“Among the many benefits of clean air, our research suggests, are improved bone health and a way to prevent bone fractures,” Baccarelli said.

The study notes that while air pollution is already a risk factor for mortality, it is now noted to be a risk for osteoporosis. The researchers also said that once an older person experiences a fracture, they have a higher risk of mortality, and are also at increased risk for future fractures and chronic pain.

There are approximately 2 million osteoporosis-related fractures in the U.S. each year. Many people don’t experience symptoms until they have a bone fracture.

Lahore, Pakistan, and New Delhi, India, are two places this week facing smog and pollution crises. Lahore has been under a cloud of smoke for nearly two weeks and New Delhi was referred to in the New York Times as a “gas chamber.”


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