Air pollution has been linked to diabetes (again)

Insulin resistance and incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus have been linked to poor air quality.

More research has been published showing a direct relationship between traffic-related air pollution and diabetes. 

Exposure to air pollutants associated with combustion engines has already been considered a trigger for type 2 diabetes mellitus, which can also be caused by tobacco smoke. Specifically, experts consider nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter to play a significant role in this.

Over the long-term, people who regularly breath in particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide are more likely to have diminished insulin-dependent glucose uptake, leading to resistance, while β-cell function is impaired, causing reduced insulin secretion and promoting subcutaneous fat accumulation. 

The most recent findings were published in the journal Atmospheric Environment, following a study by scientists from the Environmental Defense Fund and Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, analysing data from a joint block-by-block air pollution study conducted in Oakland, California, and five years of health records for more than 25,000 members of Kaiser Permanente Northern California, aged 65 and over. 

The investigation, and its results, back up previous work from 2020, which mimicked the environments of New Delhi and Beijing on a polluted day, essentially concentrating fine particulate matter pollution, or PM2.5. Those behind the study found air pollution had a comparable effect on the human body as eating a high fat diet, including heightened incidence of insulin resistance, and abnormal metabolism, as is commonly found in a pre-diabetic state. The same year, a team at the University of Colorado Boulder linked exposure to ozone with increased obesity and diabetes risk.

Image credit: Kate




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