Two studies link air pollution to heightened risk of bone loss and fractures

Particulate matter exposure in the air is associated with oxidation, inflammation, and age-related chronic disease. The study, published in the journal The Lancet Planetary Health, looked at the association of air particulate matter exposure, bone loss, and risk of bone fractures.

  • A team of researchers in the U.S. carried out two independent studies to determine the link between air particulate matter exposure and bone health.
  • In the first study, the research team assessed the link between long-term concentrations of particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5) and osteoporosis-related fracture hospital admissions. The data was culled among 9.2 million Medicare enrollees in the northeast-mid-Atlantic USA. The samples were aged 65 years and above at the time of the study, which ran from January 2003 to December 2010.
  • The researchers estimated the PM2.5 levels using spatiotemporal hybrid modeling, which included Aerosol Optical Depth data, spatial smoothing, and local predictors.
  • In the second study, they looked at the association of long-term black carbon and PM2.5 levels with serum calcium homeostasis biomarkers and annualized bone mineral density over eight years of nearly 700 middle-aged low-income men from the Boston Area Community Health/Bone Survey cohort.
  • The researchers measured black carbon levels with the use of spatiotemporal land-use regression models.
  • Results showed that bone fracture-related admissions were higher in areas with greater PM 2.5 levels, especially in low-income communities.
  • Moreover, black carbon concentration was linked to a higher bone loss in femoral neck and ultradistal radius.

In conclusion, the findings of the study indicate that poor air quality is a risk factor for bone fractures and osteoporosis, particularly in low-income communities.

For the full text of the study, go to this link.

Journal Reference:

Diddier Prada, Jia Zhong, Elena Colicino, Antonella Zanobetti, Joel Schwartz, Nicholas Dagincourt, Shona C. Fang, Itai Kloog, Joseph M. Zmuda, Michael Holick, et al. ASSOCIATION OF AIR PARTICULATE POLLUTION WITH BONE LOSS OVER TIME AND BONE FRACTURE RISK: ANALYSIS OF DATA FROM TWO INDEPENDENT STUDIES. The Lancet Planetary Health, 2017; 1 (8). DOI:

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