Some of the effects of air pollution on health are well documented -lung cancer, stroke, respiratory diseases, and long etcetera- but for others, there is less scientific evidence.
Such is the case of bone health: there are only a few studies and results are inconclusive.
In a new study, researchers found an association between exposure to air pollution and poor bone health.
The research was led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal).
Osteoporosis is a disease in which the density and quality of the bone is reduced.
Globally, it is responsible for a substantial burden of disease and its prevalence is expected to increase due to aging of the population.
The team analyzed the association between air pollution and bone health in over 3,700 people from 28 villages outside the city of Hyberabad, in southern India.
They used a locally developed model to estimate outdoor exposure at residence to air pollution by fine particulate matter (suspended particles with a diameter of 2.5 μm or less) and black carbon.
The participants also filled a questionnaire on the type of fuel used for cooking.
The team linked this information with bone health assessed using a special type of radiography that measures bone density, called dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, and measured bone mass at the lumbar spine and the left hip.
The results showed that exposure to ambient air pollution, particularly to fine particles, was linked to lower levels of bone mass. No correlation was found with the use of biomass fuel for cooking.
Inhalation of polluting particles could lead to bone mass loss through the oxidative stress and inflammation caused by air pollution.
The findings add to a growing body of evidence that indicates that particulate air pollution is relevant for bone health across a wide range of air pollution levels, including levels found in high income and low-and medium-income countries.
The lead author of the study is Otavio T. Ranzani, the ISGlobal researcher.
The study is published in JAMA Network Open.
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