Bad Air and Blood Sugar? Study Attempts to Link Pollution and Diabetes Risk

SEPTEMBER 16, 2016
Andrew Smith
endocrinology, endocrinologists, diabetes, sedentary behavior, obesity, air quality, exercise, diabetes care, mobile technology, rural residents, mobile technology, physical activity,, social science, social medicine, pulmonology, pollutionA new analysis of health and air-quality data from southern Germany suggests that pollution increases the risk that prediabetes will progress to type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).
 
Investigators used linear regression models to look for associations in 2,944 patients between local pollution and fasting samples of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), glucose, insulin, HbA1c, leptin, and C-reactive protein (hs-CRP). Effect estimates were calculated for the whole study population as well as non-diabetic, pre-diabetic and diabetic individuals
 
Among the whole study population, a 7.9μg/m3 increment in particulate matter <10μm was associated with significantly higher levels of HOMA-IR (15.6% increase; 95% confidence interval [CI], 4.0%-28.6%) and insulin (14.5%; 95% CI, 3.6%-26.5%).
 
Higher levels of nitrogen dioxide were associated with higher levels of HOMA-IR, glucose, insulin, and leptin. The degree of association, however, varied among the different populations. Effect estimates for pre-diabetic individuals were large and highly statistically significant, while the associations were smaller and weaker in non-diabetic individuals and those who had already developed T2DM.
 
The study authors, who published their findings in Diabetes, found no significant association between pollution levels and HbA1c.
 
“The results revealed that people who already have an impaired glucose metabolism — so-called pre-diabetic individuals — are particularly vulnerable to the effects of air pollution,” said Kathrin Wolf, MD, the lead author of the study. “In these individuals, the association between increases in their blood marker levels and increases in air pollutant concentrations is particularly significant. Thus, over the long term — especially for people with impaired glucose metabolism — air pollution is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.”
 


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