The study said that air pollution alone contributed to 3.2 million new cases of diabetes in 2016. The research proves that regulatory authorities need to be taking even lower pollution threats seriously and working to provide a better solution.Ziyad Al-Aly, senior author of the study and assistant professor of medicine at Washington University said, "Our research shows a significant link between air pollution and diabetes globally".
"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.
Studies from recent years suggested pollution could reduce insulin production and trigger inflammation in the body.
A team out of Washington University in Saint Louis researched the pollution-diabetes link by monitoring 1.7 million US veterans who did not have histories of diabetes over the course of 8.5 years on average. Al-Aly said that it was important to focus attention on the matter since many industry-lobbying groups say that the current acceptable pollution levels are too strict and the agencies should relax it.
The team also analyzed data from 1.7 million US veterans (who were followed for a median of 8.5 years).
Outdoor air pollution has been found to increase the risk of developing diabetes worldwide.
According to the United Nations 2018 Sustainable Development Goals Report, an estimated 4.2 million people died as a result of high levels of ambient air pollution.
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They then 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.
Over 30 million Americans have diabetes, considering the numbers globally are wobbling, as per World Health Organization, and adults around 422 million were diagnosed with diabetes by 2014 in comparison to 108 million back in 1980.
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. Pollution-linked diabetes led to the loss of some 8.2 million years of healthy life in the same year, which again corresponds to roughly 14% of all healthy life lost to diabetes overall.
The results of the analysis showed that 3.2 million cases of type 2 diabetes across the world were down to air pollution in 2016. Poverty-stricken nations (such as Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea, and Guyana) also faced the higher risk.
The findings were published June 29 in the Lancet Planetary 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. At high levels, this can affect the functioning of organs like the heart and kidney.
"The team in St. Louis is doing important research to firm up links between pollution and health conditions such as diabetes", Philip J. Landrigan, MD, a pediatrician and epidemiologist who is the dean for global health at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in NY and chair of its Department of Preventive Medicine, said "I believe their research will have a significant global impact". Wealthier countries such as France, Finland and Iceland faced a low risk.
In October 2017, The Lancet Commission on pollution and health published a report outlining knowledge gaps on pollution's harmful health effects. "I believe their research will have a significant global impact".