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BOSTON Diabetes could partially be related to air pollution, according to a new study.
The study, conducted by researchers at Children’s Hospital Boston and published in this month’s issue of the journal Diabetes Care, found that diabetes in adults was consistently correlated with particulate air pollution even after adjusting for known risk factors, such as obesity and ethnicity.
The researchers based the study on fine particulates of between 0.1 and 2.5 nanometers, known as PM2.5, a component of haze, smoke and car exhaust, obtaining county-by-county data from the Environmental Protection Agency for 2004 and 2005. They then combined that data with diabetes data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Census Bureau to find the prevalence of adult diabetes and adjust for such risk factors as obesity, exercise, geography, ethnicity and population density.
In all analyses, the researchers found a strong and consistent association between the prevalence of diabetes and concentrations of PM2.5; for every increase in PM2.5 exposure of 10 micrograms per cubic meter, there was a 1% increase in diabetes prevalence.
“We didn’t have data on individual exposure, so we can’t prove causality, and we can’t know exactly the mechanism of these people’s diabetes,” researcher John Brownstein said. “But pollution came across as a significant predictor in all our models.”