May 26, 2013 | 01:09 PM (BD Time)
26 May, 2013 Sunday
Traffic pollution may be linked to diabetes risk
Reuters, New York
People who live in areas with high levels of traffic-related air pollution may face a slightly increased risk of developing diabetes, Danish researchers conclude in a new study.
They found that people living in urban areas with high levels of nitrogen dioxide, a pollutant found in traffic exhaust, were four percent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than people living in neighborhoods with cleaner air.
Healthier people seemed to be in greater peril from the influence of air pollution, with diabetes risk jumping by 10 percent in physically active people and 12 percent in non-smokers.
Previous research has found that people with diabetes appear to be more vulnerable to the harmful health effects of air pollution exposure than nondiabetics.
The new study, published in the journal Diabetes Care, is the most comprehensive to date showing that air pollution may actually contribute to the development of diabetes, John Brownstein, an epidemiologist at Children's Hospital Boston, told Reuters Health.
It is also the first study to suggest that healthier individuals may be more susceptible to effects of air pollution, a finding that warrants further research, lead author Zorana J. Andersen of the Danish Cancer Society told Reuters Health in an email.
Anderson's group looked at data for nearly 52,000 residents of Denmark's two largest cities. Over the course of a decade, almost 3,000 people (5.5 percent), aged 50 to 65 at the start of the study, were diagnosed with diabetes for the first time.
The researchers also estimated outdoor nitrogen dioxide concentrations, as a proxy for vehicle exhaust in general, at people's home addresses since 1971.
In addition to having greater long-term exposure to air pollution, those diagnosed with diabetes were also more likely to be older, heavier, male and previous or current smokers.
These other traditional risk factors for diabetes continue to be the most significant indicators of the likelihood of disease, said Brownstein, though "exposure to air pollution is one factor that should be considered in a patient's risk profile."
Once such potentially confounding risk factors were accounted for in the analysis, the overall risk increase attributed to pollution by the researchers was slight, at four percent.
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