Link Between Air Pollution and Type 2 Diabetes Studied

Research published in the journal Environmental International compared exposure to air pollution, demographic, and lifestyle factors to the incidence of type 2 diabetes.

The interdisciplinary research team from the University of Leicester included earth science, diabetes, and health sciences experts. They analyzed data from diabetes screening studies done in Leicestershire, UK involving 10,443 people.

Exposure to traffic-generated air pollution is known to cause insulin resistance, a common type 2 diabetes symptom. Since the UN estimates two-thirds of the global population will be living in cities by 2050 it’s important to better understand this pollution-diabetes link.

“We know that air pollution is the world's largest environmental health risk affecting 92% of the population and associated with more than three million deaths per year, and evidence suggested it may contribute to the rise in type 2 diabetes,” said researcher Professor Roland Leigh, Technical Director of EarthSense and Director of Enterprise at the University of Leicester's Institute for Space and Earth Observation.

“While original results suggested association between air pollution and associated particulates and type 2 diabetes, when the effects of lifestyle and demographic factors were considered, and given the limited size of the sample, evidence for direct association with air pollution was inconclusive,” adds Leigh.

However, the researchers are continuing to use cutting-edge air quality research methods to pinpoint the effects of long-term pollution exposure, effects that may include diabetes onset. Existing experimental data indicates contact with nitrogen dioxide and related particulates are a trigger for insulin resistance, and inflammation. A major source of nitrogen dioxide is the burning of fossil fuels.

Diabetes is one of the primary causes of death in low, middle, and upper income economies, and worldwide prevalence of the disease nearly doubled between 1980 and 2014, from 4.7 to 8.5 percent. “As innovators in air quality monitoring, the University of Leicester and EarthSense has a fundamental contribution to make in the understanding of the complex issues of pollution exposure and health,” says Leigh.

Source: Science Daily
Photo credit: b k

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