Big city traffic spells big trouble for your bones
On the path of life, you’ve endured everything from break-ups and breakdowns to plenty of tough breaks.
You’ve GAINED a lot of wisdom about how to deal with life’s hard knocks… but you may have LOST a lot of bone over the years!
And that could leave you vulnerable to some of the toughest breaks of all — osteoporosis.
A loss of bone density is common as we age, and it can set you up for a major fracture that not only lays you up for weeks, but also shaves years off your life.
Now, if you’re eating plenty of bone-healthy nutrients, exercising regularly, and not smoking, you might think you’re in the clear.But according to a new pair of studies out of Columbia University, it’s possible that you can do all of that and STILL end up as fragile as a China doll — because pollution in the air you breathe can weaken your bones.
In the first study, researchers analyzed the hospital records of over 9 million older folks in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions over a 7-year period and measured the levels of air pollution in the neighborhoods where they lived.
More specifically, the researchers were interested in the levels of particulate matter (a.k.a. “PM2.5”), a tiny but nasty pollutant emitted by cars and factories.
By the end of the study, it turned out that those who lived in neighborhoods with the most PM2.5 in the air had HIGHER rates of hospital admissions for bone fractures than those in neighborhoods with the least.
And the second study pointed to why that might be.
Researchers tracked the levels of parathyroid hormone — a key hormone for bone health — in about 700 folks living right by me in the Boston area, as well as their bone density and pollution exposure.
After eight years, they found that those who breathed the air in neighborhoods with high levels of both PM2.5 and black carbon — another tailpipe emission — had LOWER levels of parathyroid hormone in their bodies than their cleaner-air counterparts.
What’s more, they also had greater DECREASES in bone mineral density.
Of course, if you’ve been reading my eTips for a while now, you know that the trouble isn’t limited to just your bones, because studies have shown that polluted air can also threaten your lungs, heart, and kidneys… increase your levels of psychological distress… and even up your risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s.
Since moving to “greener” pastures may not be practical, you can protect yourself from dirty air’s damaging effects — at least while indoors — by investing in a quality air purifier with a HEPA filter.
You should also up your B vitamins — found in foods like liver, chicken, nuts, fish, and eggs or in “B complex” supplements — which studies have shown can offset the effects of PM2.5 by as much as 76 percent!