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Warning! Air Pollution Could Lead to Diabetes

Sep 12, 2016 04:00 AM EDT
Air Pollution

(Photo : Jeff Fusco/Getty Images)

A new study from Germany reveals that exposure to air pollution could lead to diabetes, especially for those individuals in the so-called pre-diabetic state or who already have an impaired glucose metabolism.

The study, published in the journal Diabetes, showed a significant link between increase in air pollutant concentrations in a certain area and the increase blood level markers of the people living in it. The findings suggest that air pollution could be a risk factor for type-2 diabetes in the long run.

"Whether the disease becomes manifest and when this occurs are not only due to lifestyle or genetic factors, but also due to traffic-related air pollution," explained Professor Annette Peters, director of the Institute of Epidemiology II at Helmholtz Zentrum München and head of the research area of epidemiology of the DZD, in a press release.

For the study, the researchers analyzed the data of 2,994 participants of the KORA (Cooperative Health Research in the Region Augsburg) F4 study conducted in southern Germany. All participants underwent interviews and physical examinations. The researchers also took fasting blood samples from the participants to measure insulin resistance and inflammation markers. An oral glucose test was given to non-diabetic participants to determine if their glucose metabolism was impaired.

The data gathered from the participants were then compared with the concentrations of air pollutants at their place of residence. The concentrations of air pollutants (particle and nitrogen dioxide) were then estimated using predictive models. About 40 sites within the city and rural ares were examined for nitrogen dioxide measurements while 20 sites were studied for particle measurements.

With their comparison, the researchers were able to find a significant association between increases in blood marker levels and increases in air pollutant concentrations. Additionally, the researchers discovered that people with impaired glucose metabolism were particularly vulnerable to the effects of air pollution.

In the U.S., air pollution remains to be one of the biggest health threats. Environmental Protection Agency listed six pollutants, including carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen oxides, ground-level ozone, particulate matter and sulfur oxides, as "criteria" air pollutants. The human health-based and/or environmentally-based criteria (science-based guidelines) regulates these pollutants by setting permissible levels.

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