Air pollution behind 3.2 million new diabetes cases worldwide, finds study

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In the United States, the study attributed 150,000 new cases of diabetes per year to air pollution and 350,000 years of healthy life lost annually.

The researchers stressed on the fact that the risk of developing diabetes is significantly higher in lower-income countries like India- where air pollution levels are extremely high and the air quality poor. After running a series of mathematical models and controlling the other medical factors of diabetes, the researchers studied their diabetes levels and the pollution levels.

"Our research shows a significant link between air pollution and diabetes worldwide". The Washington University team wanted to see how it could be linked to reducing insulin production and triggering inflammation in the body.

A team out of Washington University in Saint Louis researched the pollution-diabetes link by monitoring 1.7 million USA veterans who did not have histories of diabetes over the course of 8.5 years on average.


This study involved 1.7 million US veterans with no history of diabetes who were followed for an average of more than eight years. In those exposed to air pollution between 5 and 10 micrograms per cubic meter of air - far less than the 12 micrograms deemed safe by the EPA - about 21 percent developed diabetes. When that exposure increased to 11.9 to 13.6 micrograms per cubic meter of air, about 24 percent of the group developed diabetes. More than 420 million people are affected by diabetes worldwide, and roughly 30 million people in the United States alone.

Levels of air pollution well below what is considered safe by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the World Health Organization are causing an increased risk of diabetes worldwide, according to a study published Friday in the journal Lancet Planetary Health. 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.

"Our study shows an important relationship between atmospheric pollution and diabetes".

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.


The team estimates that air pollution contributed to 3.2 million new cases of diabetes throughout the world in 2016 - about 14% of all cases that year. In the future, if the volume of industrial and automotive emissions will continue to grow, the contribution of air pollution to the development of the epidemic of diabetes will continue to grow.

A study from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis collaborated with the Veterans Affairs (VA) St. Louis Health Care System. The US is at a moderate risk level for pollution-related diabetes. Previous research from other teams showed how particles can enter the lungs and bloodstream, thus affecting how major organs function.

Reference Bowe B, Xie Y, Li T, Yan Y, Xian H, Al-Aly Z. The 2016 Global and National Burden of Diabetes Mellitus Attributable to PM2·5 Air Pollution.


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