Air pollution plays significant role in diabetes

New Study Links Air Pollution to Global Diabetes

New Study Links Air Pollution to Global Diabetes

"Pollution contributed to 3.2 million new cases of diabetes worldwide in 2016, which represents about 14% of the new cases recorded", say the researchers from the Washington Medical School in St. Louis, USA.

Despite the current U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) levels deemed safe, a new study confirmed a correlation between outdoor air pollution and diabetes, which kills millions of people globally. After controlling for known causes of diabetes, researchers measured study participants' exposure to air pollution levels documented by the EPA and NASA. This is important because many economic lobbies argue that current levels [of permitted releases of pollutants into the atmosphere] are too strict and should be increased.

Based on data, among a sample of veterans exposed to pollution at a level of between 5 to 10 micrograms per cubic metre of air, about 21 per cent developed diabetes. More than 420 million people are affected by diabetes worldwide, and roughly 30 million people in the United States alone.

The findings raise the possibility that reducing pollution may lead to a drop in diabetes cases in heavily polluted countries such as India and less polluted ones such as the United States.

Recently, Chinese doctors made a decision to evaluate both the prevalence of diabetes affects the life expectancy of the Chinese, and came to the conclusion that the acquisition of this disease shortens a typical life span of nine years, and their American colleagues found that diabetes is associated with approximately 12% of deaths in the United States.

This article has been republished from materials provided by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Landrigan is a member of The Lancet Commission on pollution and health, which released a report previous year estimating that pollution was responsible for 9 million premature deaths worldwide in 2015. Evidence now shows how current levels are actually not sufficiently safe and need to be tightened.

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". Also, nobody ever spoke of its relation with air pollution before this study did. Pollution-linked diabetes led to the loss of some 8.2 million years of healthy life in the same year, which again corresponds to roughly 14% of all healthy life lost to diabetes overall. "We wanted to thread together the pieces for a broader, more solid understanding". For the study, the researchers focused on various pollution causing elements like particulate matter, dirt, smoke and soot etc.

In diabetes, air pollution is believed to reduce the production of insulin and trigger inflammation, preventing the body from converting blood glucose into energy. Poverty-stricken nations (such as Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea, and Guyana) also faced the higher risk. At the same time, rich, developed countries like France, Finland and Iceland experience much lower risk. At high levels, this can affect the functioning of organs like the heart and kidney. Note: material may have been edited for length and content.

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