"This makes a very strong case that air pollution is connected to deep vein thrombosis," said Dr. Robert D. Brook, an assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan, who wrote an accompanying editorial in the journal.
"But it is a first study and a single study," he added, "and I would be cautious about making generalizations and drawing conclusions on the basis of one study."
Still, "the results are very positive," Brook said. "Even if they are overestimating the effect, the effect, which is relatively so robust, is there. But how strong it is requires further studies."
"If future studies corroborate their findings and address some of the limitations, it may be proven that the actual totality of the health burden posed by air pollution, already known to be tremendous, may be even greater than anticipated," Brook said.
Baccarelli agreed with Brook's assessment, saying, "clearly the finding needs to be confirmed in additional studies."
"We are working on that," he said. "We are seeking additional populations in which the same link between air pollution and deep vein thrombosis can be evaluated. We also hope that some of our colleagues elsewhere will be pushed to conduct other studies."
The findings are published in the May 12 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Learn more about the health risks of air pollution from the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
SOURCES: Andrea Baccarelli, M.D., assistant professor, environmental health, University of Milan, Italy; Robert D. Brook, M.D., assistant professor, internal medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; May 12, 2008, Annals of Internal Medicine
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