Air pollution is responsible for almost 15,000 new cases of diabetes in the United Kingdom every year, a study has found. The main causes of type 2 diabetes include an unhealthy diet, inactivity and obesity, but this study highlights the significance of outdoor air pollution. In the year 2016, a study was reported where air pollution was reported to be contributing up to 3.2 million of the new diabetes cases that are 14% of the total across the globe.
In diabetes, the precise mechanism is yet to be determined but pollution is thought to reduce insulin production and trigger inflammation, preventing the body from converting blood glucose into energy that the body needs to maintain health. 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. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis collaborated with those at the Veterans Affairs St. Louis Healthcare System to study the effects of air pollutants.
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"This is important because many industry lobbying groups argue that current levels are too stringent and should be relaxed".
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In 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that close to 90% of people globally were exposed to severely polluted air, and about seven million died around the world due to reasons attributed to air pollution.
The study is published in the journal The Lancet Planetary Health. "Evidence shows that current levels are still not sufficiently safe and should be tightened".
While growing evidence has suggested a link between air pollution and diabetes, researchers have not attempted to quantify that burden until now.
"Over the past two decades, there have been bits of research about diabetes and pollution", said Dr. Al-Aly. "We wanted to thread together the pieces for a broader, more solid understanding".
However, Dr Joshi wasn't in complete agreement with the Lancet study's hypothesis that reducing pollution would reduce the incidence of diabetes.
In this study, researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis gathered data on 1.7 million USA veterans with no history of diabetes who had been followed for a median of 8½ years. That ads up to 350,000 years of healthy life lost annually. For example, people living in the pollution of 10 micrograms per cubic meter, 21% more likely to suffer from diabetes than the inhabitants of more prosperous regions. Researchers point out that while the 3 percent increase appears small, it translates into an additional 5,000 to 6,000 new diabetes cases per 100,000 people each year. "All this indicates that these standards need to change", said Ziad al-Ali (Ziyad Al-Ali) at the University of Washington in St. Louis (USA). "I believe their research will have a significant global impact".