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New Study Links Air Pollution With Osteoporosis Risk

Currently, over half of the world's population now lives in urban environments.

The growth of cities has brought many conveniences and economic growth to billions of people but there are unintended side effects.

A new study conducted by Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health has found a link between air pollution and risk of bone fractures due to osteoporosis.


Osteoporosis is a widespread epidemic in modern industrialized society.

In fact, around 2.1 million bone fractures related to osteoporosis are recorded every year in the United States. These injuries contribute up to $20.3 billion in annual health care spending.

Additionally, it has been found that in aging individuals risk of death increases from 10% to 20% within the first year following a major osteoporosis related bone fracture.

This new research now shows that air pollution is a potentially significant contributing factor to the development of osteoporosis related bone fractures.

The Study

Over the past 10 years Dr. Andrea Baccarelli has conducted two independent studies assesing the relationship between bone health and concentrations of air pollution.

Baccarelli explains, "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 benefits of clean air, our research suggests, are improved bone health and a way to prevent bone fractures."

The research found that urban communities with higher levels of atmospheric particulates called PM2.5s also had increased admissions for bone fracture cases in local hospitals.

The Mechanism

Found primarily in motor vehicle exhaust, PM2.5 particulates are so tiny that they can easily penetrate deep in to the body. This especially true when they make their way in to the lungs through inhalation.

PM2.5 exposure has been linked to decreased levels of parathyroid hormone. Parathyroid hormone regulates the deposition of calcium in the body. Without adequate parathyroid hormone, the bones are not able to maintain mineral density. This leads to osteoporosis and an increased risk of bone fracture.


According to Baccarelli, “more research is needed to confirm these results on other populations to confirm that these results apply globally. All other effects of air pollution have been accepted as a fact after they have been found in multiple countries, for instance in the United States and Europe, where the population patterns differ.'

'For instance, in the United States individuals with higher socioeconomic status often live in suburban areas that are less polluted while that is not true in Europe. While our results take into account socioeconomic factors, such as education, replication is necessary to fully exclude that the results are affected by concurrent population characteristics.”



  1. https://www.ndtv.com/food/air-pollution-may-cause-weak-bones-fractures-heres-what-you-can-do-for-your-bone-health-1773687
  2. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-5068101/Air-pollution-exposure-linked-brittle-bone-disease.html
  3. https://www.healio.com/endocrinology/bone-mineral-metabolism/news/in-the-journals/%7Bacad08a8-8077-44f6-b40e-74a2888a1e00%7D/air-pollution-may-increase-osteoporosis-related-bone-fracture-risk
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