Air pol­lu­tion linked to weaker bones, frac­tures and in­creased risk of an early death

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - INTERNATIONAL - By Natalie Rah­hal

Air pol­lu­tion could cause brit­tle bone dis­ease, a c c o rd­ing to new re­search. A study by Columbia Univer­sity's Mail­man School of Pub­lic Health that an­a­lyzed data on more than 9mn peo­ple en­rolled in Medi­care in the North­east­ern US is the first to find a link be­tween traf­fic fumes and frac- tures caused by os­teo­poro­sis.

The study linked pol­lu­tion ex­po­sure to low lev­els of parathy­roid hor­mone, which reg­u­lates cal­cium pro­duc­tion, lead­ing to weaker bones and more hos­pi­tal­iza­tions for frac­tures. 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. But this study is the first to link air pol­lu­tion to the degra­da­tion of the weak­ened bones of 200mn peo­ple around the world.

Se­nior au­thor Dr. An­drea Bac­carelli, an en­vi­ron­men­tal health sci­en­tist at Columbia Univer­sity, said: '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. Among the many ben- efits of clean air, our re­search sug­gests, are im­proved bone health and a way to pre­vent bone frac­tures.'

Her study found hos­pi­tal ad­mis­sions for bone frac­tures were higher in com­mu­ni­ties with el­e­vated lev­els of tiny at­mo­spheric par­ti­cles called PM2.5s. They come mainly from ve­hi­cle ex­hausts.

The find­ings were pub­lished in The Lancet Plan­e­tary Health.

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