Respiratory tract

Air pollution not only damages the lungs, it also weakens the bones


Air pollution increases the likelihood of broken bones

The increasing global air pollution leads to all kinds of negative effects on human health. A typical illness as a result of air pollution is respiratory infections. Researchers have now found that regular exposure to air pollution also increases the risk of broken bones.

Scientists at Columbia University in the US have now found that air pollution not only negatively affects the airways, but also increases the likelihood of broken bones. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Lancet Planetary Health".

Material released by diesel engines damages the bones

The experts speculate that the soot black material that occurs in air pollution and that is emitted by gas and diesel engines seems to increase the likelihood of broken bones. The results of the current study are of great importance because, for example, the metropolis of Delhi (which is located in the north of India) and other cities and regions have very poor air quality for several days in a row.

Bone fractures are usually favored by osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is the leading cause of bone injury in the elderly. Osteoporosis is a disease in which the bones become weaker and brittle as the body loses more bone mass than it can reproduce.

Soot and PM2.5 reduce parathyroid hormone levels

When investigated, the scientists found that when participants were exposed to higher levels of PM2.5 particulate matter and soot (typical components of air pollution from vehicle emissions), they showed lower levels of a parathyroid hormone, which is considered to be a type of main calcium and a Hormone is related to our bones.

Air pollution reduces bone mineral density

The scientists also see a decrease in the so-called bone mineral density compared to people who were exposed to lower concentrations of the pollutants. People with lower bone mineral density were more often hospitalized for broken bones.

Oxidative damage and inflammation can accelerate bone loss

Particulate matter such as PM2.5 causes oxidative damage and inflammation, which can accelerate bone loss and increase the risk of broken bones in older people, the scientists from Columbia University in the USA explain. For example, various particle components are also contained in the smoke of cigarettes. Experts have also linked smoking to bone damage.

Doctors examine almost 700 subjects

For their investigation, the researchers analyzed a total of 692 low-income adults in the Boston region. In older adults, even a slight increase in PM2.5 concentrations would lead to an increase in broken bones, the authors say. The effects of such broken bones can have serious health consequences for those affected. For example, if an older adult suffers broken bones, this increases their risk of premature death by up to 20 percent. And only 40 percent of those affected regain their independence after such broken bones, the scientists add. Earlier studies had shown that air pollution can cause several diseases, ranging from premature birth to a decrease in lung immunity. (as)

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