Traffic pollution may be linked to diabetes risk
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.
Copyright Reuters, 2011
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 neighbourhoods 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.