July 2018 - Air pollution plays significant role in diabetes - News - SHOWCASE

New Study Links Air Pollution to Global Diabetes

Air pollution caused one in seven new cases of diabetes in 2016, according to new research.

After sifting through all the research related to diabetes and outdoor air pollution, the team devised a model to evaluate diabetes risk across various pollution levels.

"Our research shows a significant link between air pollution and diabetes globally", Dr. Al-Aly said.

"Ten or 15 years ago, we thought that air pollution caused pneumonia, asthma and bronchitis and not much more than that", said Dr. Philip Landrigan, dean for global health at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in NY, who was not involved in the study. The Washington University team wanted to see how it could be linked to reducing insulin production and triggering inflammation in the body.

The senior study author and assistant professor of medicine at the Washington University; Dr. Ziyad AI-Aly stated that there lies an incontrovertible bridge between particle air pollution and diabetes levels quite underneath the latest safe zone, and several industrial influential groups seek that the recent levels have become much tougher and require relaxation. "Evidence shows that current levels are still not sufficiently safe and need to be tightened", Aly explained.

Approximately 21% of people living in environments where there were 5-10 micrograms per cubic meter of air pollution developed type 2 diabetes.

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He noted how even low levels of air pollution (i.e. considered to be safe levels by the EPA and WHO) could contribute to an increased risk. More than 420 million people are affected by diabetes worldwide, and roughly 30 million people in the United States alone.

In the USA, the EPA's pollution threshold is 12 micrograms per cubic metre of air, the highest level of air pollution considered safe for the public, as set by the Clean Air Act of 1990 and updated in 2012. This represents "an increase of 5,000 to 6,000 new diabetes cases per 100,000 people in a given year", according to the study.

Also, the incidence of diabetes caused by air pollution is estimated to be higher in countries with less stringent and with no regulations against pollutants' emissions, such as India, Papua New Guinea, Afghanistan, and Guyana, for example.

Overall, the researchers estimated that pollution contributed to 3.2 million new diabetes cases globally in 2016 - slightly less than 15 per cent of cases.

The study was carried out by Washington University School of Medicine and the Veterans Affairs (VA) St. Louis Health Care System. Also, nobody ever spoke of its relation with air pollution before this study did. Previous research from other teams showed how particles can enter the lungs and bloodstream, thus affecting how major organs function. Wealthier countries (such as France, Finland, and Iceland) faced a low risk, and the United States faced a moderate risk.

Landrigan is a member of The Lancet Commission on pollution and health, which released a report past year estimating that pollution was responsible for 9 million premature deaths worldwide in 2015. Note: material may have been edited for length and content.

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