New Study Links Air Pollution to Global Diabetes

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

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

"In the United Kingdom, in 2016 there were about 14,900 incident cases of diabetes attributable to air pollution and 31,800 healthy life years lost".

New European research has found that as many as 4.5 million people died prematurely from diseases related to air pollution in 2015, including almost 240,000 children under the age of five. Researchers do say that the while the main causes of diabetes remains unhealthy diets, sedentary lifestyle, and obesity, the new research suggests that air pollution could also play a role.

"The team in St. Louis [Veterans Affairs and Washington University team] is doing important research to firm up links between pollution and health conditions such as diabetes", said commission member Philip J. Landrigan, MD, a pediatrician and epidemiologist who is the dean for global health at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in NY and chair of its Department of Preventive Medicine.

According to a study released Saturday, air pollution reduces insulin production and causes inflammation, preventing the body from converting blood glucose into energy.

The study, conducted by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, showed that air pollution contributed to about 14 percent of new diabetes cases - 3.2 million - globally, and to about 150,000 new cases of diabetes in the United States in 2016. 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. Our data, on the contrary, show that current levels are not sufficiently safe and need to be even more stringent, "said Al-'Ali".

Researchers at the university, in collaboration with scientists at the Veterans Affairs' Clinical Epidemiology Center, examined the relationship between particulate matter and the risk of diabetes by first analyzing data from 1.7 million US veterans, who did not have histories of diabetes and were followed for a median of 8.5 years. After taking care of all the medically approved cases of diabetes, and sporting a series of statistical models, it is been compared with the levels of diabetes of veterans in contrast to pollution, as documented by the NASA and EPA. When exposure to pollution was increased to 12 to 14 micrograms per cubic meter of air, the percentage of people who developed diabetes increased to 24%. "However, using mathematical models, Al-Aly's team established an increased diabetes risk at 2.4 micrograms per cubic meter of air".


Over 30 million Americans have diabetes, considering the numbers globally are wobbling, as per World Health Organization, and adults around 422 million were diagnosed with diabetes by 2014 in comparison to 108 million back in 1980. The number of diabetics starts to grow even with minimal levels of air pollution that is considered acceptable by the who.

The researchers that every year nearly 14 percent of all cases of diabetes are caused by the pollution. Also, other countries on this list of high diabetes-pollution risk include Papua New Guinea, Afghanistan, and Guyana.

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

Researchers say that while there have been several concerns about the growing pollution and cases of diabetes around the world, but till now, it has not been actually quantified. A new report warned that outdoor air pollution may be a significant contributor to diabetes cases around the world. At the same time, rich, developed countries like France, Finland and Iceland experience much lower risk. Particles that are smaller than 10 micrometers can enter the lungs and also pass into the bloodstream, travel to various organs, and produce an inflammatory reaction that can lead to chronic health problems like diabetes, heart disease, and kidney disease.

In October 2017, The Lancet Commission on pollution and health published a report outlining knowledge gaps on pollution's harmful health effects.

"The team in St. Louis is doing important research to firm up links between pollution and health conditions such as diabetes", said commission member Philip J. Landrigan, MD, a pediatrician and epidemiologist who is the dean for global health at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in NY and chair of its Department of Preventive Medicine.

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