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Alert! New study reveals air pollution is causing diabetes

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 30 June 2018, 17:06 IST

Air pollution is the one of the major factor and one in seven new cases of diabetes in 2016, as per the United States study published in the journal Lancet Planetary Health, which also found even low levels raised the chances of developing the chronic disease.

As we all know, Diabetes has always been primarily associated with lifestyle factors like diet and a sedentary lifestyle. However, a research conducted by the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis revealed that pollution also plays a major role.

The study estimated pollution contributed to 3.2 million new diabetes cases globally in 2016 — or around 14 per cent of all new diabetes cases globally that year.

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“Our research shows a significant link between air pollution and diabetes globally,” said Ziyad Al-Aly, the study’s senior author.

Pollution reduces the body’s insulin production, “preventing the body from converting blood glucose into energy that the body needs to maintain health,” as per the latest research.

Al-Aly said the research, published in the Lancet Planetary Health, found an increased risk even with levels of air pollution currently considered safe by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

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“This is important because many industry lobbying groups argue that current levels are too stringent and should be relaxed. Evidence shows that current levels are still not sufficiently safe and need to be tightened,” he added.

‘A strong link’

The researchers working with scientists at the Veterans Affairs’ Clinical Epidemiology Center wanted to perform a indepth study so they examined data from 1.7 million US veterans who did not have histories of diabetes and were followed for a median of 8.5 years.

Patient information from the veterans was compared to air quality information to examine the relationship between pollution and diabetes risk.

The scientists finally found the risk factors of causing diabetes “exhibited a strong link to air pollution”.

They devised a model to gauge diabetes risks over different pollution levels and used data from the annual worldwide Global Burden of Disease study, to estimate the prevalence of diabetes caused by bad air.

Diabetes affects more than 420 million people globally and is one of the world’s fastest growing diseases.

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First published: 30 June 2018, 17:06 IST