Air pollution was the cause of 1 in 7 new cases of diabetes in the year 2016. The findings were made by a USA study that also found that low levels raises chances of developing a chronic form of the disease. Diabetes has been associated with various lifestyle factors such as diet or a sedentary lifestyle. However, the new research by the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis says pollution too plays a big role.

The report estimates that pollution contributed to around 3.2 million new cases of diabetes globally in the year 2016, which is close to 14 per cent of new cases that year. The study’s senior author Ziyad Al-Aly says: Our research shows significant link between air pollution and diabetes, globally.

According to experts, pollution reduces the human body’s insulin production, thus, “preventing body from converting blood glucose into energy that body needs to maintain health. This is also found by the research. Al-Aly says the research, which has been published in the Lancet Planetary Health, has found increased risk even at levels of air pollution considered safe by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as well as the World Health Organization (WHO).

“This is important as many industry lobbying groups argue current levels are too stringent, and should be relaxed. Evidence shows current levels are not sufficiently safe, and need to be tightened,” says Ziyad Al-Aly.

Strong link established between diabetes and air pollution

Researchers, who are working with the Veterans Affairs’ Clinical Epidemiology Center personnel, took data from 1.7 million US veterans, who didn’t have a history of diabetes, and they were followed for a median of around 8.5 years. Patient information from veterans was compared to air-quality information to examine relationship between pollution as well as diabetes risk. Scientists found risk of developing diabetes “exhibited a strong link to air pollution”. They devised a model to estimate risks over various pollution levels and then used the data from annual worldwide Global Burden of Disease study, in order to estimate diabetes prevalence caused by bad air. Globally, the disease affects over 420 million people, and it’s one of the world’s fastest growing diseases.

About Ushi Fatma

Author at I am a freelance journalist, environment activist, fashion blogger, and a short film and documentary maker. My association with Taru Mitra, an organisation working hard for the environment in India, taught me the value of nature preservation. I want to make the world a better place for future generations. Being a mother, I know how important it is to do that. I love nature, art and creativity.