Canadian Study Shows Air Pollution May Trigger Appendicitis

air pollution appendicitis photo

Photo: Flickr, CC
What? How?
We all know that air pollution is a bad thing. Not good for your lungs, not good for your heart. Asthmatics, children and older folks are particularly at risk. But a new Canadian study claims that air pollution is also increasing the risk of appendicitis in adults. Even short-term exposure to air pollution could have an effect.

Dominant Theory on Appendicitis
So far "the dominant theory of the cause of appendicitis has been obstruction of the appendix opening, but this theory does not explain the trends of appendicitis in developed and developing countries. Appendicitis cases increased dramatically in industrialized countries in the 19th and early 20th centuries, then decreased in the middle and late 20th century, coinciding with legislation to improve air quality. The incidence of appendicitis has been growing in developing countries as they become more industrialized."

The researchers identified 5191 adults who had been admitted to hospital with appendicitis between Apr. 1, 1999, and Dec. 31, 2006. The air pollutants studied were ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and suspended particulate matter of less than 10 µ and less than 2.5 µ in diameter.

They then used government data on air pollution to figure out the level of exposure to various pollutants of the people with appendicitis. "They found correlations between high levels of ozone and nitrogen dioxide and the incidence of appendicitis between age groups and genders." More men than women were found to have the condition, possibly because more men work outside, giving them a higher exposure to air pollution on "bad air quality" days.

What Now?
Now that a correlation has been found, researchers will try to figure out how air pollution could trigger appendicitis. They suspect that the pollutants may trigger inflammatory responses, but further studies will be necessary to figure out the causality (if any).

Via CMAJ, Science Daily
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