appendicitis and air pollution

The “Wellness” blog, hosted by Time (10/5, Sharples), reported that the scientific community has longed charted the commingling of industrialization and appendicitis incidence. “With the growth of industry in North America and Europe during the 1800s and early 1900s came the increased emission of pollutants such as ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon monoxide.” This was paralleled by “an increase in cases of appendicitis.” But, “as clean air legislation emerged in the late 1900s, there was a noticeable drop in appendicitis.” Now, researchers in Canada are “offering several examples of this correlation, including the fact that…after the United States’ Clean Air Act was passed in 1970, the incidence of appendicitis decreased by 14.6 percent from 1970 to 1984.”

        The scientific community has “yet to identify how exactly pollution provokes appendicitis,” the Calgary Sun (10/5, Kaufman) pointed out. But, lead researcher Dr. Gilaad Kaplan, of the University of Calvary, “suspects it could be consistent with findings on other organs.” He added, “If you breathe in pollution, it can actually trigger an inflammatory response.”

        That, says Dr. Kaplan, may also explain why men appear to “be more susceptible to the effects of outdoor air pollution,” considering “they are more likely to be employed in outdoor occupations,” the UK’s Independent (10/6, von Radowitz) reported.

        Another “prevailing theory” revolves around the “opening of the appendix” being blocked, according to HealthDay (10/5, Gardner). According to speculation, that may be the result of “lower fiber intake among citizens of industrialized countries,” which “leads to obstruction of the appendix by the stool.” Such a theory, however, “doesn’t explain the decreased incidence of appendicitis in the second half of the 20th century.”

        So, University of Calgary researchers examined data on 5,200 adults hospitalized “for acute appendicitis” and pollution figures “collected by the Canadian government’s environment branch,” MedPage Today (10/5, Smith) reported. As expected, “high levels of ambient air pollutants such as ozone and nitrogen dioxide were associated with an increased risk of the condition.” And, “in the summer months of July and August,” researchers “found pronounced effects for” the increase, according to the paper published in the Canada Medical Association Journal.

870 Responses to “appendicitis and air pollution”

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