How does air pollution affect diabetes?
General air pollution is a problem that occurs in many countries around the world. Researchers found that increasing air pollution causes many deaths every year. The doctors also found that the number of people with diabetes increased steadily with the increase in air pollution.
In their latest study, scientists at Washington University in St. Louis found that air pollution not only affects life expectancy, but also has a strong impact on the likelihood of developing diabetes. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "The Lancet Planetary Health".
Diabetes diseases are increasing
In the UK alone, air pollution causes nearly 15,000 new cases of type 2 diabetes annually, the study's authors explain. The number of people with type 2 diabetes in the UK has tripled in the past two decades, from 700,000 in the 1990s to 2.8 million today. These illnesses cost the NHS around £ 14 billion annually.
Air pollution leads to an increase in diabetes
The rising number of diseases has been linked to increasing obesity, but the results of the new US study suggest that UK air pollution could be responsible for at least one in ten diabetes cases. It turned out that the number of people with diabetes increased with the increase in air pollution, even if the airborne particles were below the levels that the World Health Organization (WHO) considered safe.
Air pollution is a strong risk factor for diseases
Air pollution is a major risk factor for many diseases and should never be ignored, says study author Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly from Washington University. In the UK, there were around 14,900 cases of diabetes related to air pollution in 2016, the expert adds. The latest study results clearly show that higher air pollution is associated with a higher risk of diabetes. The impact could be particularly severe in large and polluted cities such as London.
What damage can type 2 diabetes cause?
Type 2 diabetes occurs when a person does not produce enough insulin, the hormone that allows cells to take up glucose in the blood. Or type 2 diabetes develops if the insulin produced does not work properly. As a result, the blood sugar accumulates in the body and the cells do not receive the energy they actually need, the scientists explain. Over time, type 2 diabetes can damage blood vessels, nerves, and internal organs, and can even cause kidney disease and blindness. Diabetes also increases the risk of heart attack and stroke, the experts add.
Records of 1.7 million people were evaluated
For the study, the researchers examined the health records of 1.7 million US veterans who had been medically monitored for an average of 8.5 years. Using NASA satellite data and ground station readings to monitor air pollution, they then linked the readings to individual health records to determine the quality of the air these people breathed. Using the Global Burden of Disease study, they also compared air pollution in 194 countries to find out if diabetes cases increased in more polluted areas.
How can people protect themselves from diabetes?
Overall, the researchers estimated that pollution contributed to 3.2 million new diabetes cases worldwide in 2016, which is about 14 percent of all new cases. Given the number of people in heavily polluted areas, this suggests that even a small reduction in air pollution would have a significant impact on the number of people who develop type 2 diabetes. If steps are taken to meet air quality standards, this will have a significant impact on collective health. The risk for type 2 diabetes can also be reduced by people through healthy eating, physical activity and sufficient exercise, the doctors emphasize. (as)