Green spaces and osteoporosis risk reduction

Recent research has revealed that living near green spaces, such as gardens or parks, can decrease the risk of developing osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a widespread metabolic disorder characterized by the deterioration of bone microarchitecture and a decrease in bone density. As the incidence of osteoporosis often increases with age, it is rapidly becoming a global concern due to the rising life expectancy worldwide. Lifestyle changes associated with modernization and the expansion of urban areas also contribute to the heightened risk of osteoporosis.

The health issues linked to reduced bone density include chronic pain, a higher likelihood of fractures, decreased mobility, and an overall reduction in quality of life.

Previous studies have found that environmental factors can play a significant role in the development of osteoporosis, with high levels of air pollution strongly linked to a higher risk of developing the condition.

Recent evidence shows that green spaces in urban landscapes not only reduce the risk of severe health issues, such as cardiovascular diseases and osteoporosis, but also improve mental health by lowering air pollution levels.

The study

The current study analyzed whether long-term exposure to green spaces was associated with a reduced risk of osteoporosis and improved bone mineral density. Scientists also examined whether genetic predisposition and exposure to green spaces influenced the risk of developing osteoporosis.

This prospective study utilized data from the UK Biobank, which included information on physical exam results, demographic characteristics, lifestyle factors, and socioeconomic status of the participants.

An ultrasound device was used to estimate bone mineral density. Additionally, T-scores were calculated based on the participant’s body mass index (BMI) and the BMI of a healthy adult of the same age and sex. A T-score lower than -2.5 was set as the threshold for defining prevalent osteoporosis.

To confirm the incidence of osteoporosis, follow-up information such as medical records, primary care or death registry data, and self-assessments were used. The analysis also included polygenic risk scores for osteoporosis from the UK Biobank, calculated using data from genome-wide association studies to examine genetic predisposition to osteoporosis.

Participants’ residential postal codes were used to determine whether they lived in rural or urban areas.

Other covariates included in the analysis were sex, age, education level, annual income, ethnicity, and lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and healthy food intake.

The data highlighted that exposure to green spaces in residential areas was independently associated with a lower risk of developing osteoporosis and higher bone mineral density. The incidence of osteoporosis was consistently lower in areas with a higher percentage of green spaces, natural environments, and home gardens.

Source: BMJ

The article draws upon studies published and recommendations from international institutions and/or experts. We do not make claims in the medical-scientific field and report the facts as they are. Sources are indicated at the end of each article.
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