High levels of air pollution may be weakening the bones of Indians, in addition to increasing risk for other health conditions such as lung cancer, stroke, respiratory diseases, warns a study.
The study analyzed the association between air pollution and bone health in over 3,700 people from 28 villages outside the city of Hyderabad.
The results, published in the journal JAMA Network Open, showed that exposure to ambient air pollution, particularly to fine particles, was associated with lower levels of bone mass.
“This study contributes to the limited and inconclusive literature on air pollution and bone health,” said first author of the study Otavio Ranzani, a researcher at Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) in Spain.
Regarding the possible mechanisms underlying this association, he said: “inhalation of polluting particles could lead to bone mass loss through the oxidative stress and inflammation caused by air pollution”.
For the study, the authors 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 micrometers or less) and black carbon.
The participants also filled a questionnaire on the type of fuel used for cooking. The authors 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.
Annual average exposure to ambient PM2.5 was 32.8 micrograms per cubic meter air — far above the maximum levels recommended by the World Health Organisation (10 micrograms per cubic meter air).
The researchers found an association between exposure to air pollution and poor bone health. No correlation was found with the use of biomass fuel for cooking.
Osteoporosis is a disease in which the density and quality of the bone are reduced. Globally, it is responsible for a substantial burden of disease and its prevalence is expected to increase due to aging of the population.