Almost 10 million years of healthy life were lost in 2016 due to pollution-linked diabetes, representing about 14 per cent of all years of healthy life lost due to diabetes from any cause.
They found that those who lived in areas with more pollution (particulate matter, airborne microscopic pieces of dust, dirt, smoke, soot, etc.) ran a higher risk of developing the disease, likely because they had lower insulin levels and more inflammation, which left them unable to convert blood glucose into energy.
Finally, they analysed data from the Global Burden of Disease study, which is conducted annually with contributions from researchers worldwide.
The report by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis says that a decrease in air pollution level may cause a significant drop in the diabetes cases in heavily populated countries like India and even less populated countries like the US.
While diabetes is known to be caused from eating unhealthy, rarely exercising and obesity, the study's new research also links outdoor air pollution as a driver of the disease that affects more than 420 million people globally and 30 million Americans, the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis reported in a press release.
'This is important because many industry lobbying groups argue that current levels are too stringent and should be relaxed. Evidence now shows how current levels are actually not sufficiently safe and need to be tightened.
For the study, the researchers analysed data from 1.7 million U.S. veterans, who were monitored for 8.5 years and had no previous history of diabetes. Exposure to levels between 11.9 and 13.6 micrograms raised diabetes risk to about 24 percent, which amounts to an additional 5,000 to 6,000 cases of diabetes per 100,000 people each year.
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.
The study estimated that there were 3.2 million new pollution-related diabetes cases in 2016 throughout the world and 8.2 million years of life were lost that same year due to the disease. We found an increased risk even at low levels of air pollution, which are considered safe by the World Health Organization. Around 14 percent of all new diabetes cases across the world that year could be attributed to pollution.
The study also determined that lower-income countries were more susceptible to a higher risk of pollution-related diabetes than developed countries.
Poorer countries with few resources to create and maintain clean-air policies, such as India, Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea and Guyana, faced a higher diabetes-pollution risk.
Scientists, estimate pollution to have contributed internationally to about 3.2 million new cases of diabetes in 2016 (14% of all incidents worldwide this year).
The findings can be seen in a recent edition of The Lancet Planetary Health. The US is at a moderate risk level for pollution-related diabetes. They focused their research on particulate matter as these materials can pass into the bloodstream from the lungs, contributing to major health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, or kidney disease. One of its recommendations was to define and quantify the relationship between pollution and diabetes. Note: material may have been edited for length and content.
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