Health Care

Air pollution can cause weaker bones, increase risk of fractures

Air pollution can cause weaker bones, increase risk of fractures”

Bone structure 3d illustration, normal and with osteoporosis.

Analysis of eight years of follow-up among 692 middle-aged, low-income adults found that participants living in areas with higher levels of PM2.5 and black carbon, a component of air pollution from automotive emissions, had lower levels of parathyroid hormone and greater decreases in bone mineral density.

Smog-filled towns and cities have been linked to an increased risk of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, acute respiratory diseases such as asthma and even dementia.

He said, "Low bone mass poses a particular challenge for athletes because it not only predisposes to stress-related bone injuries but also sets the stage for increased risk of osteoporosis and insufficiency fractures with aging".

"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, study's senior author.

While most of us don't worry about our bone health until much later in life, an article in the October, 2017 issue of Clinics in Sports Medicine, "Osteopenia and Osteoporosis in Female Athletes", suggests that for female athletes maximizing bone health needs to start in adolescence.

They are particularly harmful because they are so small they can penetrate deep into the body.

For older adults, even a small rise in PM2.5 concentrations would lead to an increase in bone fractures, the researchers noted.

The study is published in journal The Lancet Planetary Health.

Researchers analyzed data on 9.2 million Medicare enrollees in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic area who had been hospitalized for fractures from 2003 to 2010.

"Osteoporosis" is a common bone disease in which the bones lose the bone mass resulting weak and brittle bones which fail to fix themselves, a common disease seen in the elderly people.

About a tenth of sufferers in the United Kingdom will break a bone in any given year - causing them considerable pain and costing the health system millions of pounds a year. It does not have any symptoms before a break occurs as the result of a usually harmless impact, such as a hug.

U.S. researchers have found that even a small increase in the concentration of tiny "particulates" contained in vehicle exhausts and other smoke can reduce a bone's density, making it more likely to break.

Dr Baccarelli said within a year of a bone fracture, death risks for older individuals increase by up to 20 percent, with only 40 percent regaining full independence.

"It is now clear that genetic factors account for a modest proportion of fractures...."

Either way, by far the best way to prevent air-pollution-related diseases is to push through tough policies to improve air quality, Dr Baccarelli said.

Traffic fumes reduce the amount of the parathyroid in our bodies, a key hormone which strengthens bones by boosting calcium levels.

'These associations might disproportionately affect under-privileged communities.

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