Residing in environments plentiful in gardens and parks can decrease the risk of developing brittle bone disease, a fresh study suggests.

Scientists suggest that the reduced air pollution in verdant locales is a significant factor in increasing bone density and lessening the risk of osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis, commonly referred to as ‘brittle bone disease’, weakens our physical structures making them vulnerable and fragile. This often results in chronic discomfort, reduced mobility, and a drop in quality of life.

The genesis of this disease is a blend of genetic, hormonal and environmental influences. Though settling down in lush areas has been pinned to less risk of ill health, it was ambiguous if this perk extended to dodging osteoporosis risks too.

With the escalation in earth’s geriatric population and lifestyle changes, osteoporosis has become a health concern worldwide. Medical practitioners echo that the global prevalence of this condition is poised to rise.

A comprehensive examination of data was conducted for 391,298 individuals, with an average age of 56, from the UK Biobank. More than half of them were women.

Parameters including bone mineral density, annual household earnings, educational qualifications, employment status, residential locale, and alcohol intake were closely looked at for each of these individuals.

The amount of greenery in their residence area was determined using a metric called a normalised difference vegetation index (NDVI), using satellite imagery. The effects of the exposure to pollutants nitrogen oxide (NO2) and particulate matter PM2.5 were also estimated based on the residential postcode and data from the Escape project, a long-term exploration of the effects of air pollution exposure on human health in Europe.

On the timeline, the duration of monitoring for each participant was either till they were diagnosed with osteoporosis, death, or March 31, 2021, whichever arrived first.

A dozen years was the average tracking period and during this time, osteoporosis was diagnosed in 9,307 people.

The profile of individuals who were more inclined to develop osteoporosis was older, women, smokers, and retired people. This was borne out by the results, now published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

Furthermore, they were also found to have attained less education and suffered economic disadvantages.

The research team, hailing from China, highlighted that a consistent correlation was detected between the extent of green spaces and new osteoporosis cases.

The team broke down the NDVI into increments of around 300 metres of accessible residential green spaces in a range from 300 to 1500 metres.

Progressing NDVI shored up bone mineral density and a corresponding 5% reduction in the risk of osteoporosis.

Study co-author, Professor Zhengxiao Ouyang recognised, “Critical factors in the detected link between the amount of green spaces and osteoporosis risk reduction were lesser levels of NO2 and PM2.5”.

“A slew of studies have demonstrated that exposure to air pollution can trigger oxidative stress and inflammation, apart from hormonal disruption, all of which boost the risk of osteoporosis.”

“Residents enjoying a greener view are exposed to lower risks as trees and plants act as natural filters, purging pollutants from the air.”

Physical activity demonstrated a correlation with a lower risk of osteoporosis which can plausibly be due to an abundance of exercise opportunities in areas with accessible green spaces.

Prof Ouyang, based out of Central South University in China, shared, “The findings from this study present the debut evidence indicating that residential greenness is associated with healthier bone density and decreased risk of developing osteoporosis.”

He further supplied, “These findings shed valuable light on the potential of green spaces in preventing the onset of osteoporosis and stress on the importance of urban greening in the development of effective prevention strategies.”

Stay updated with the latest news from all around Scotland and beyond.