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Air Pollution may increase the risk of developing diabetes

The study undertaken by Washington University in USA found that one out of seven new cases of diabetes, in 2016, were caused due to air pollution.

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Air Pollution may increase the risk of developing diabetes
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In Short

  • Study suggests that outdoor air pollution increases the risk of diabetes globally
  • If pollution levels come down it may lead to a decrease in diabetes
  • The overall risk of pollution-related diabetes is tilted more toward lower-income countries such as India

By India Today Web Desk: If air pollution's link to respiratory diseases was not enough to worry about, a new study now suggests that outdoor air pollution, even at deemed safe levels, increases the risk of diabetes globally.

Even low level of pollution leads to an increase in diabetes cases

The study undertaken by Washington University in USA found that one out of seven new cases of diabetes, in 2016, were caused due to air pollution.

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If pollution levels come down in either heavily polluted country like India or lesser polluted USA, in both cases it may lead to a decrease in diabetes cases, according to the research.

"Our research shows a significant link between air pollution and diabetes globally," said Ziyad Al-Aly Ziyad, the study's senior author and an assistant professor of medicine at Washington University.

We found an increased risk, even at low levels of air pollution currently considered safe by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
- he said

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.

The overall risk of pollution-related diabetes is tilted more toward lower-income countries such as India that lack the resources for environmental mitigation systems and clean-air policies while the U.S. experiences a moderate risk of pollution-related diabetes, Lancet Planetary Health report said.

The study

Primarily diabetes has been associated with lifestyle choices like junk food diet and a sedentary lifestyle, but research by the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis said pollution also plays a major role.

In the study, the team analysed data from more than one million participants who did not have any history of diabetes. They were followed for a median of eight and a half years.

To evaluate outdoor air pollution, the researchers looked at particulate matter, airborne microscopic pieces of dust, dirt, smoke, soot and liquid droplets. Previous studies have found that such particles can enter the lungs and invade the bloodstream, which may lead to major health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and kidney disease.

In case of diabetes, 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.

Diabetes is one of the silent epidemics affecting a large number of people in the world with the highest numbers of people living with diabetes in India which is known as the Diabetes capital of the world.

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