The prevalence of osteoporosis and osteoporotic fractures is expected to increase with the aging of the population in the coming decades. In this study, we systematically reviewed the evidence on the association between exposure to air pollution and osteoporosis-related outcomes.
We systematically searched evidence according to the PRISMA on PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science (until August 2022). The risk of bias was assessed using the Risk of Bias (RoB) in the Non-randomized Studies of Exposures (ROBINS-E) tool. Random effects meta-analysis was applied to calculate combined estimates. We evaluated the heterogeneity using Cochran’s Q test and quantified it by I and tau statistics. The overall body of evidence was assessed using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation system (GRADE) tool.
Out of 5254 retrieved articles, 19 studies (11 cross-sectional, seven cohorts, and one case-control) met our inclusion criteria. Most of the studies had a high probability of Rob (n = 17), and only two had a moderate RoB. Different outcomes including bone mineral density, bone mineral content, osteoporotic fracture, osteoporosis, and osteopenia were reported across the studies. The associations were reported for different air pollutants including PM2.5, PM10, nitrogen oxides, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, black carbon, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and coarse particulate matter. Evidence was suggestive of the negative role of PM10, PM2.5, and nitrogen dioxide (e.g. bone mineral density pooled estimate: -0.02, 95%CI: -0.03: -0.01). The overall body of evidence for most of the exposure-outcome pairs was low and very low.
The evidence on the association between air pollution exposure and osteoporosis-related outcomes is heterogenic. However, the evidence suggests an increased risk of osteoporotic fracture and osteoporosis in outdoor air pollutants. Due to the small number of studies in each group, also observed heterogeneity, and publication bias, the results should be interpreted with caution.

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