Pollution may Raise Diabetes Risks

<"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/toxic_substances">Increased pollutant levels in one’s blood could point to increased risks for Type 2 diabetes diagnoses, according to a new study conducted on seniors in Sweden, says Reuters. The findings are published in the journal, Diabetes Care.

This is not the first study to connect pollution to the disease and, while this study does not prove definitive causation, it does suggest that Type 2 diabetes might be about more than overeating and a sedentary lifestyle, noted Dr. David Carpenter, head of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany in New York.

The pollutants reviewed for this study included pesticides and <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/PCBs_health_concerns">polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) which are commonly found in meat and fatty fish because of the chemicals’ long-term impacts to the environment. Some, especially PCBs, were previously used in a variety of products and industries—paints, plastics, and electrical equipment manufacturing—but are heavily regulated today and banned in a number of countries, said Reuters Health.

“… the exposure to these chemicals in the general population still occurs because they have widely contaminated our food chain,” study researcher Dr. Duk-Hee Lee, of Kyungpook National University in Daegu, South Korea, told Reuters Health. This study involved a follow-up by Lee and his team on prior findings that linked the pollutants to the blood sugar disorder.

For the study, 725 Swedish, nondiabetic, senior adults were tested; blood samples were taken to measure blood pollutant levels, said Reuters; the group was followed for five years. The study revealed that 36 of the participants were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and after accounting for diabetes risks including weight, activity level, and smoking, those who tested with high levels of PCBs were about 9 times likelier to be diagnosed with diabetes versus those with much lower blood pollutant levels, said Reuters.

As we’ve mentioned in prior posts, air pollution has been linked to a number of diseases and disorders such as breast cancer and diabetes. Studies have also linked pollutants to inflammation and oxidative stress, which is involved in the development of autism, supporting other study results.

Reuters said, citing the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that over 8 percent of the U.S. population has diabetes, with most of those people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Prior studies have linked type 2 diabetes to being overweight, inactive, having high blood pressure, and even having a larger waist, said Reuters.

This study offers an additional options for the disorder, suggesting that long-term exposure to pollutants could interfere with pancreatic cell processes, said Reuters, which explained that it is in the pancreas where insulin—a blood sugar regulating hormone—is released.

Last year, we wrote that children exposed to traffic pollution have double the risk of being diagnosed with autism, versus other children. Earlier research suggests a link between air pollution exposure during pregnancy and negative effects on the developing fetus—and some studies have indicated links between air pollution and the first two years of life and cognitive development.

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