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Air Pollution May Cause Appendicitis: Study
Date:10/5/2009

Researchers say cases go up in the warm-weather months when ozone is highest

MONDAY, Oct. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Air pollution is already linked to respiratory and cardiovascular ills, and now researchers say the dirty air you breathe may also cause appendicitis.

Authors of a new study published in the Oct. 5 issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that cases of appendicitis go up when the air is dirtier.

"This makes us think about the underlying cause of appendicitis that could potentially be linked to air pollution," said Dr. Gilaad G. Kaplan, senior author of the study and assistant professor of medicine in the division of gastroenterology at the University of Calgary in Alberta. "Air pollution is a modifiable risk factor. If these findings are confirmed and we are able to legislate better air pollution control, cleaner air, then potentially we could prevent more cases of appendicitis."

But at this early point in the research, the implications are not so clear-cut, warned another expert.

"It's provocative, but there's a huge difference between correlating any number of factors with a disease and proving that any of these factors might actually cause a disease, and this study fails to show causation," said Dr. F. Paul Buckley III, assistant professor of surgery at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and a surgeon at Scott & White Healthcare Round Rock, Texas.

"Do we all want to decrease pollution? Yes. Is that going to decrease the incidence of appendicitis? I doubt it," said Buckley.

Parts of the findings were presented at a conference a year ago.

No one really knows why appendicitis, or swelling and infection of the appendix, occurs.

Appendicitis cases rose significantly in the late 19th century and early 20th century, as industrialization took hold. Cases declined in the middle and later parts of the last
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