German Study Links Air Pollution with Diabetes in Women

Traffic-related air pollution, known to raise the risk for cardiovascular
disease, may also increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in women.
Low-grade inflammation may contribute to the higher incidence of type 2
diabetes in women exposed to air pollution, according to German researchers.

Published online May 27 ahead of print in the peer-reviewed journal
Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP), the study comprised German women
living in highly polluted industrial areas and in rural regions with less
pollution. The researchers analyzed data from 1,775 women who were 54 or 55
years old when they enrolled in the study in 1985. Between 1990 and 2006, 187
participants were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, which often starts in middle
age. Air pollution data from monitoring stations and emission inventories run
by local environmental agencies were used to estimate each woman's average
exposure levels.

Exposure to components of traffic pollution, particularly nitrogen dioxide
(NO2) and soot in ambient fine particulate matter (PM), was significantly
associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. An increase in NO2 or PM
corresponding to the difference between exposure at the 75th percentile and
exposure at the 25th percentile was associated with a 15–42 percent higher risk
of type 2 diabetes. Living within 100 meters of busy roadways more than doubled
the diabetes risk.

To the authors' knowledge, this is the first population-based study to reveal a
statistically significant association between traffic-related air pollution and
type 2 diabetes. Previous epidemiologic research shows that city dwellers have
a higher prevalence of diabetes than do rural residents, especially in
developing countries undergoing rapid industrialization. Changes in diet and
physical activity and resulting increases in obesity are believed to be the
primary culprits. These changes, however, do not totally explain the increased
diabetes risk. The results of the current study suggest traffic-related air
pollutants may be an unidentified environmental factor related to the
development of type 2 diabetes.

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AplusA-online.de - Source: Environmental Protection