University of Calgary

Study finds potential link between air pollution, appendicitis rates in Canadian cities

UToday HomeJuly 12, 2013

By Todd O’Keefe

Dr. Gil Kaplan, associate professor in the Faculty of Medicine, says the study of 12 Canadian cities builds on the results of an earlier study focusing on Calgary hospital admissions.Dr. Gil Kaplan, associate professor in the Faculty of Medicine, says the study of 12 Canadian cities builds on the results of an earlier study focusing on Calgary hospital admissions.Appendicitis was first recognized in the 19thcentury in industrialized countries. It is a common condition affecting one in 15 North Americans and could be a life-threatening condition if left untreated.

A study published this week in Environmental Health Perspectives by the University of Calgary’s Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases and Institute for Public Health member, Dr. Gil Kaplan, indicates that the air we breathe is in fact potentially associated with increased risks of perforated appendicitis.

Study measures patients across 12 Canadian cities

“We identified more than 35,000 people admitted to hospitals for appendicitis in 12 cities across Canada, such as Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto and Halifax,” says Kaplan, an associate professor in the Faculty of Medicine.

Watch a video about the study.

“Our data demonstrates that correlative rises in ozone concentrations, caused by smog or air pollution, was associated with an approximately 22 per cent increased risk of being admitted to the hospital for perforated appendicitis.”

Understanding our changing environment

Kaplan says the current study was based on a 2009 study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that showed measured elevations in ozone levels in Calgary over the week preceding hospitalization for appendicitis.

The new study was designed to try and replicate the previous findings and measure a potential link between air pollution and cases in non-perforated or perforated appendicitis. The study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Health Canada.

Increased level of ozone concentrations potential link to increased appendicitis

“We specifically found that there was increased risk with perforated appendicitis during the times when ozone concentrations or air pollution levels were high,” Kaplan says, adding, “This is an important finding as appendicitis is a potentially life-threatening disease and environmental factors, such as air pollution, are modifiable factors.

“Improved air quality in developed countries, such as Canada, may explain why there is a decrease of incidence in appendicitis in the western world. It also indicates that developing countries with worsening air quality, due to increased ozone concentrations, may be contributing to rising conditions of appendicitis in the developing world.”

Gil Kaplan is also funded by Alberta Innovates-Health Solutions.

 

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