The story appears on

Page A6

October 7, 2009

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » World

Pollution linked to appendix problems

SHORT-TERM exposure to air pollution could trigger appendicitis in adults, possibly because pollutants cause inflammatory responses, according to a Canadian study published on Monday.

Researchers found that people exposed to nitrogen dioxide for a week during June, July and August -- when levels of the pollutant are at their highest -- were almost twice as likely to come down with the potentially deadly condition as those who had no exposure.

Those over 64 were more than four times more likely to develop appendicitis under the same conditions.

Nitrogen dioxide is most usually produced by traffic and causes most health problems during summer months.

The Canadian team -- led by Dr Gilaad Kaplan of the University of Calgary -- studied the cases of 5,191 people admitted with appendicitis at three adult hospitals in Calgary, Alberta, over a seven-year period.

Kaplan said 52.5 percent of overall admissions occurred between April and September, the warmest months of the year in Canada, when people are more likely to be outside.

Appendectomies are among the most common surgeries that are performed in United States and Canada, where one in 12 people have a chance of developing appendicitis.

"Even though the outcomes of the operations are actually really good, because it's such a serious condition if it's missed ... it actually is a significant burden to the health-care system," Kaplan told Reuters.

"The one thing we know about air pollution is that it's modifiable and so if there is a potential link then maybe we could improve air quality and prevent some cases."

The link between air pollution and appendicitis was more marked in men, possibly because they worked more outdoors. Kaplan wants to study the phenomenon further in an attempt to confirm the initial findings.

Most medical specialists believe appendicitis is caused by obstruction of the appendix opening but Kaplan's team said this theory did 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. They then decreased in the middle and late 20th century, a period that coincided with legislation to boost air quality.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend