Published: Wed, July 04, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Pollution plays significant role in diabetes

Pollution plays significant role in diabetes

Air pollution caused one in seven new cases of diabetes in 2016, according to a United States study, which found even low levels raised the chances of developing the chronic disease. Accordingly, one in seven cases of diabetes is due to air pollution, say researchers in the study's report.

The researchers estimated that pollution contributed to a little more than three million new diabetes cases globally in 2016, which represented about 14 per cent of all new diabetes cases globally that year. Air pollution is thought to trigger inflammation and reduce the ability of the pancreas to manage insulin production.

"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).According to official statistics, today, about 3.7 million Russians suffer from diabetes. This is important because many economic lobbies argue that current levels [of permitted releases of pollutants into the atmosphere] are too strict and should be increased.

In this study, researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis gathered data on 1.7 million U.S. veterans with no history of diabetes who had been followed for a median of 8½ years. In those exposed to air pollution between 5 and 10 micrograms per cubic meter of air - far less than the 12 micrograms deemed safe by the EPA - about 21 percent developed diabetes. At exposures of between 11.9 to 13.6 micrograms per cubic meter of air, roughly 24% developed diabetes.

As shown by these calculations, the risk to get diabetes begins to increase even at relatively low concentrations of aerosols and harmful substances in the air, more than 2.4 micrograms per cubic meter.

Over 30 million Americans have diabetes, and the numbers worldwide are staggering: According to World Health Organization, 422 million adults had been diagnosed by 2014, compared with 108 million in 1980.

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In the U.S., 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.

Researchers at Washington University used NASA satellites to predict that nearly 15,000 people get type 2 diabetes in the United Kingdom every year because of polluted air. Poverty-stricken countries facing a higher diabetes-pollution risk include Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea and Guyana, while richer countries such as France, Finland and Iceland experience a lower risk, the study said.

Landrigan is a member of The Lancet Commission on pollution and health, which released a report previous year estimating that pollution was responsible for 9 million premature deaths worldwide in 2015. The US is at a moderate risk level for pollution-related diabetes.

Such particles can enter the lungs and invade the bloodstream, contributing to major health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and kidney disease. They also estimated another 8.2 million years of life were lost in 2016 because of pollution.

This article has been republished from materials provided by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

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