Researchers say that air pollution can drastically increase a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The study conducted by the team of researchers state that as of 2016, one in seven cases of the disease is directly caused by air pollution, which would amount to over 3 million cases in total.
Air Pollution Linked To Type 2 Diabetes
The study was conducted by researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, Missouri. The scientists state that even though obesity is mainly linked to type 2 diabetes, air pollution has been associated with an increased risk of the disease.
Health experts believe that the tiny particles in the air can reduce the body's ability to the hormone insulin. This process is known as insulin resistance where the glucose levels in the blood increase, which can lead to a person developing type 2 diabetes.
The researchers of the study examined data on 1.7 million people who served in the U.S. military that were followed for 8.5 years. They discovered that a person's risk for developing type 2 diabetes increased by 10 percent for every 10 micrograms per cubic meter increase in fine particular matter found in the air.
The study also discovered that almost 10 million years of healthy life were lost all across the world in 2016 due to pollution-linked diabetes.
Health Experts Are Concerned
"Our research shows a significant link between air pollution and diabetes globally. We found an increased risk, even at low levels of air pollution currently considered safe by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the World Health Organisation," stated Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, from Washington University.
Dr. Al-Aly added that the evidence collected reveals that current levels of air pollution are still not considered safe and need to be tightened. Researchers continued that their findings are troubling due to many areas in the UK having excessive air pollution levels that defy safety limits.
The World Health Organization also shared data, which revealed that 30 towns and cities have high levels of fine particulate matter that is above the recommended limit of 10 micrograms per cubic meter.
Over 3 million people in Britain were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. The researchers also found that poverty-stricken countries such as Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea, and Guyana face a higher risk for pollution-diabetes, while wealthier countries including Finland and France have a lower risk.
The study was published in the journal The Lancet Planetary Health.