Diabetes, blame it on air

Study: Even low pollution levels can pose health risk — (Details)

A new research study links air pollution with an increased risk of global diabetes, even at pollution levels deemed safe by other governing bodies.

The researchers stressed on the fact that the risk of developing diabetes is significantly higher in lower-income countries like India- where air pollution levels are extremely high and the air quality poor. After controlling for known causes of diabetes, researchers measured study participants' exposure to air pollution levels documented by the EPA and NASA.

"We found an increased risk, even at low levels of air pollution now considered safe by the U.S. EPA and the World Health Organization (WHO)". Al-Aly said that it was important to focus attention on the matter since many industry-lobbying groups say that the current acceptable pollution levels are too strict and the agencies should relax it.

"Ten or 15 years ago, we thought that air pollution caused pneumonia, asthma and bronchitis and not much more than that", said Dr. Philip Landrigan, dean for global health at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in NY. Using a sample of veterans, expose to 5 to 10 micrograms per cubic meter of air caused diabetes to develop in 21 percent of the the study's sample while 24 percent developed diabetes when exposed to 11.9 to 13.6 micrograms per cubic meter of air. In the United States, the number of diabetics exceeds 30 million, and in the world - 420 million people.

The findings suggest that reducing air pollution may also help curb cases of diabetes in heavily polluted countries or areas.

Finally, the researchers analyzed data from the Global Burden of Disease study, which is conducted annually with contributions from researchers worldwide. They also estimated that 8.2 million years of healthy life were lost in 2016 due to diabetes-related pollution.

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The study was carried out by Washington University School of Medicine and the Veterans Affairs (VA) St. Louis Health Care System.

The results can be found published online in the journal The Lancet Planetary Health.

Talking about the lack of efforts over the past few years to improve the condition of diabetes, Al-Aly said, "Over the past two decades, there have been bits of research about diabetes and pollution". Researchers point out that while the 3% increase appears small, it translates into an additional 5,000 to 6,000 new diabetes cases per 100,000 people each year. "We wanted to thread together the pieces for a broader, more solid understanding".

The team also looked at the effects of air pollution in children under five, who are particularly susceptible to respiratory infections as a result of pollution exposure. Air pollution is thought to trigger inflammation and reduce the ability of the pancreas to manage insulin production.

Air pollution has been more and more associated with type 2 diabetes in recent years, and while the exact mechanisms behind this link are not clear, scientists have suggested that where people live and their income could be noteworthy factors. Wealthier countries (such as France, Finland, and Iceland) faced a low risk, and the United States faced a moderate risk. "I believe their research will have a significant global impact".

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