According to a recent American study, the effects of air pollution are leading to an acceleration of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. In the UK, 3.8 million people suffer from osteoporosis, a condition that affects mostly women (80% of cases)1. Read on to learn about what osteoporosis is and how air pollution is speeding up bone loss in postmenopausal women.
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition that makes bones more fragile and, thus, more likely to break. This condition develops slowly over many years and is usually only discovered when a person breaks a bone. Some of the most common breaks are of the wrist, hip, and/or spine, though it is not uncommon for a person with osteoporosis to experience broken bones in other parts of the body including the arms, pelvis, or ribs (the latter as a result of sneezing or coughing).
While an osteoporosis patient experiences pain as a result of bones breaking, these individuals can also be victims of long-term pain due to broken spinal vertebrae. Elderly individuals with osteoporosis often develop a stooped posture (where they appear to be bent forward) because with broken spinal vertebrae, their spines can no longer support the weight of their bodies2.
American study on osteoporosis and air pollution
The study, performed through the Women’s Health Initiative study in February 2023, has shown that postmenopausal women, already a risk group for osteoporosis, experience an accelerated decrease in bone density due to exposure to air pollution.
Performed on 161,808 postmenopausal women, the study showed that the lumbar spine is the area of the body most heavily impacted by air pollution. Exposure to nitrous oxides, specifically, leads to a 1.22% reduction of bone density annually which is nearly twice the rate experienced by people with normal ageing in anatomical sites that were evaluated (which included total hip, femoral neck, lumbar spine, and whole body)3.
This study was not the first of its kind. In 2017, a similar study at Columbia University was performed that found a link between increased levels of ambient particulate matter (PM2.5) and higher incidence of hospital admissions due to bone fracture. Observed more heavily in low-income communities where residents are more heavily exposed to air pollutants, the study mentioned that even a slight increase on PM2.5 levels could lead to an increase in bone fractures4.
The cost of air pollution-related osteoporosis
As mentioned above, in the UK alone, 3.8 people suffer from osteoporosis. This represents 2% of the country’s healthcare spending, but the problem goes well beyond the UK borders1. A large, comprehensive study analysing the prevalence of osteoporosis around the world estimated that, using their sample size of 103 million people worldwide ranging from ages 5-105 years, osteoporosis affects 18.3% of the world’s population5. This creates a significant social and economic burden on the global population as a whole. With rising levels of air pollution causing 7 million premature deaths annually6, accelerated osteoporosis adds yet another reason for everyone, on both the individual and national scales, to seriously focus our efforts on reducing our contributions to air pollution.
How to protect yourself with Eoleaf
As more and more studies present findings that show the destructive nature of air pollution on our health, you may be feeling frustrated that air pollution, for many, is not high on the list of priorities. Along with steps that you can take to reduce your individual contributions to air pollution, one of the best ways for you to take the state of your health back into your hands is by investing in an air purifier.
High-quality air purifiers like those offered at Eoleaf are designed to protect your lungs from the dangers of air pollution. Some of those dangers are increased risk of various types of cancer (especially lung cancer); respiratory disease and illness like COPD, asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, and pneumonia; mental health diseases like anxiety and depression; and aggravation of other already diagnosed diseases. Read more about the dangers of air pollution here.
Eoleaf’s air purifiers, with 8 different filtration technologies, offer protection from fine particle and chemical pollution (including VOCs), germs (bacteria and viruses), allergens (pollen, dander, and dust) in your indoor spaces. Browse our catalogue of air purifiers to find the best model for your needs, and if you need assistance, our dedicated team of experts is here to help.
1 Fuller, G. (2023, March 10). Air Pollution 'speeds up osteoporosis' in postmenopausal women. The Guardian. Retrieved April 18, 2023, from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/mar/10/air-pollution-speeds-up-osteoporosis-postmenopausal-women
2 NHS. (2023). Osteoporosis. NHS choices. Retrieved April 18, 2023, from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/osteoporosis/
3 Prada, D., Crandall, C. J., Kupsco, A., Kioumourtzoglou, M.-A., Stewart, J. D., Liao, D., Yanosky, J. D., Ramirez, A., Wactawski-Wende, J., Shen, Y., Miller, G., Ionita-Laza, I., Whitsel, E. A., & Baccarelli, A. A. (2023). Air pollution and decreased bone mineral density among women's health initiative participants. EClinicalMedicine, 57, 101864. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eclinm.2023.101864
4 Prada, D., Zhong, J., Colicino, E., Zanobetti, A., Schwartz, J., Dagincourt, N., Fang, S. C., Kloog, I., Zmuda, J. M., Holick, M., Herrera, L. A., Hou, L., Dominici, F., Bartali, B., & Baccarelli, A. A. (2017). 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, 1(8). https://doi.org/10.1016/s2542-5196(17)30136-5
5 Salari, N., Ghasemi, H., Mohammadi, L., Behzadi, M. hasan, Rabieenia, E., Shohaimi, S., & Mohammadi, M. (2021). The global prevalence of osteoporosis in the world: A comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research, 16(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13018-021-02772-0
6 World Health Organization. (2023). Air Pollution. World Health Organization. Retrieved April 18, 2023, from https://www.who.int/health-topics/air-pollution