Archives of Osteoporosis

, 13:112 | Cite as

Association between polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and osteoporosis: data from NHANES, 2005–2014

  • Wenhou Duan
  • Xin Meng
  • Yanxin Sun
  • Chongqi Jia
Original Article



The association between osteoporosis and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons was not clear. However, recent studies showed that both osteoporosis and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons were associated with reactive oxygen species. So we presumed that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons were associated with increased odds of osteoporosis. We found 3-hydroxyfluorene was associated with decreased odds of osteoporosis, while 2-hydroxyfluorene was associated with increased odds of osteoporosis.


Previous studies showed that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons were involved in the production of reactive oxygen species that played an important role in illness. Other studies demonstrated that the reactive oxygen species might play a role in occurrence of osteoporosis. However, the association between polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and osteoporosis was not clear. Therefore, we conducted a study to investigate the relationship between polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and osteoporosis.


A total of 3053 individuals aged 50 years or older were drawn from National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey, 2005–2014. Eight polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons metabolites (1-hydroxynaphthalene, 2-hydroxynaphthalene, 2-hydroxyfluorene, 3-hydroxyfluorene, 1-hydroxyphenanthrene, 2-hydroxyphenanthrene, and 3-hydroxyphenanthrene and 1-hydroxypyrene) were examined to represent exposure of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the body. Weighted percentage and weighted mean were used to describe classified variable and continuous variable, respectively. We used weighted logistic regression to estimate the association of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and osteoporosis.


Five hundred seventy-seven (18.9%) osteoporosis patients were included. Among the eight polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons metabolites, 3-hydroxyfluorene was associated with decreased odds of osteoporosis after controlling socio-demographic status, body mass index, alcohol, previous fracture, parental fracture, glucocorticoid use, dietary calcium intake, smoking, and other polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons metabolites (OR = 0.63, 95%CI 0.41–0.98). 2-hydroxyfluorene (OR = 1.87, 95%CI 1.07–3.29) was associated with increased odds of osteoporosis. In the nonsmoking group, we found the association of osteoporosis with 2-hydroxyfluorene (OR = 2.56, 95%CI 1.10–5.96) and 3-hydroxyfluorene (OR = 0.41, 95%CI 0.22–0.77) still exists.


Our study found that 3-hydroxyfluorene was associated with decreased odd of osteoporosis, while 2-hydroxyfluorene was associated with increased odds of osteoporosis. Our study was a cross-sectional study, therefore cohort studies or experimental studies about association of PAH and osteoporosis is needed.


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons Osteoporosis 2-hydroxyfluorene 3-hydroxyfluorene 



My deepest gratitude goes first and foremost to Professor Jia Chongqi for his constant encouragement and guidance. Second, we thank the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) for providing the datasets of National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Third, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to my fellow classmates, who give me help in modifying the paper. This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© International Osteoporosis Foundation and National Osteoporosis Foundation 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wenhou Duan
    • 1
  • Xin Meng
    • 1
  • Yanxin Sun
    • 1
  • Chongqi Jia
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Epidemiology and BiostatisticsShandong UniversityJinanPeople’s Republic of China

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