“You are Diabetic Because Of Pollution”- Not Just Sugar, Lifestyle, Air Pollution Cause Diabetes
It is not just an improper diet and a sedentary lifestyle that can cause diabetes. A new study shows a link between low levels of air pollution and an increased risk of diabetes.
Air pollution is becoming a regular menace across India’s metro cities, especially national capital Delhi. And it doesn’t just irritate the lungs and lead to coughing bouts, it is also linked to health problems like heart disease, lung cancer and asthma. Now, a new study done by the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, suggests that air pollution caused one in seven new cases of Type 2 diabetes in 2016 in the US, and even low levels of it can raise chances of developing the chronic disease.
The Lancet Planetary Health report said the overall risk of pollution-related diabetes is actually tilted more toward lower-income countries, such as India, that lack the resources for environmental mitigation systems and clean-air policies.
Diabetes affects more than 420 million people globally and is one of the world’s fastest growing diseases. It has primarily been associated with lifestyle factors like diet and a sedentary lifestyle, but new research suggests that pollution may also play a major role. The study estimated that pollution contributed to 3.2 million new diabetes cases globally in 2016 — or around 14% of all new diabetes cases globally that year.
“Our research shows a significant link between air pollution and diabetes globally,” said Ziyad Al-Aly, the Study’s Senior Author. The study explains that pollution may reduce the body’s insulin production, preventing the body from converting blood glucose into energy that the body needs to maintain health.
Al-Aly said the research, published in the Lancet Planetary Health, found an increased risk even with levels of air pollution currently considered safe by the World Health Organization (WHO). “This is important because many industry lobbying groups argue that current levels are too stringent and should be relaxed. Evidence shows that current levels are still not sufficiently safe and need to be tightened,” he added.
What’s worrying is that 14 of the world's 20 most-polluted cities are in India, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). “Air pollution could explain diabetes in patients who otherwise follow a healthy lifestyle,” said diabetes expert Dr Anoop Misra of Fortis.” US researchers found that pollution triggered inflammation which reduces the body's insulin production. Dr Misra says that Indians are more prone to inflammation than people in the West. “Combine this with air pollutants, and the risk becomes much higher,” he adds.
The country is already dealing with a fast-rising incidence of diabetes. The Indian Council of Medical Research found that prevalence had increased by 64% in the past 25 years.