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Air pollution plays significant role in diabetes

02 July 2018

Cutting air pollution could reduce diabetes rates in countries with both higher and lower levels of air pollution, the researchers said.

As shown by these calculations, the risk to get diabetes begins to increase even at relatively low concentrations of aerosols and harmful substances in the air, more than 2.4 micrograms per cubic meter.

In 2016, the scientists estimated that 3.2 million diabetes cases were linked to contributing air pollution.

Air Pollution prevents the body from converting blood glucose into energy that the body needs to maintain health.

The study also found that the diabetes risk was present even in pollution levels considered safe by the EPA.

Al-Aly said the research, published in the Lancet Planetary Health, found an increased risk even with levels of air pollution now considered safe by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Being one of the fastest growing diseases, diabetes is mainly caused by eating an unhealthy diet, having a sedentary lifestyle, and obesity.

However, he says more studies are needed to establish the link between pollution and diabetes.

"This is important because many industry lobbying groups argue that current levels are too stringent and should be relaxed".

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The study also discovered that nearly 10 million years of healthy life were lost all across the world in 2016 due to pollution-linked diabetes.

The study is published in the journal The Lancet Planetary Health.

Dr. Al-Aly added that the evidence collected reveals that current levels of air pollution are still not considered safe and need to be tightened.

Air pollution is estimated to contribute to 40,000 early deaths in the United Kingdom every year from problems such as heart attacks, lung cancer and strokes. "We wanted to thread together the pieces for a broader, more solid understanding", he said.

In this study, researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis gathered data on 1.7 million United States veterans with no history of diabetes who had been followed for a median of 8½ years. They also estimate that 8.2 million years of healthy life were lost in 2016 due to pollution-linked diabetes, representing about 14 percent of all healthy years lost due to diabetes of any cause.

On the other hand, as noted already, the scientists themselves, of the epidemic of diabetes occurred in those countries where there are no problems with obesity - for example, in Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea or some African countries. For example, people living in the pollution of 10 micrograms per cubic meter, 21% more likely to suffer from diabetes than the inhabitants of more prosperous regions.

The researchers compared medical information on the patients to data from the EPA's land-based air monitoring systems as well as satellite data from NASA.

Over 3 million people in Britain were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. One of its recommendations was to define and quantify the relationship between pollution and diabetes.

Ziyad Al-Aly, an assistant professor of medicine at Washington University, served as the study's senior author. "I believe their research will have a significant global impact".

Air pollution plays significant role in diabetes