A study published in the BMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care journal has revealed that the exposure to polluted air is associated with an increased risk of type-2 diabetes.
The research, first of its kind in India and conducted in Delhi and Chennai, found that inhaling air with high amounts of fine pollution particles (PM2.5), 30 times thinner than a strand of hair, led to high blood sugar levels and increased type-2 diabetes incidence.
The study is the first to suggest a direct link between exposure to PM2.5 and type 2 diabetes in India. The researcher said that the fine particulate matter has been associated with several cardiovascular and cardiometabolic diseases.
The team of researchers assessed a group of over 12,000 men and women from 2010 to 2017 and measured their blood sugar levels periodically. The researchers also used satellite data and air pollution exposure models to determine the air pollution in the locality of each participant during that time.
The study showed that one month of exposure to PM2.5 led to increased levels of blood sugar and prolonged exposure of one year or more led to higher risk of diabetes.
It also found that for every 10 micrograms per cubic metre (μg/m3) increase in annual average PM2.5 level in the two cities, the risk for diabetes increased by 22 per cent.
The researchers suggested that while diet and obesity were found to be leading causes of type 2 diabetes, the study on air pollution explains why urban people have a higher prevalence of this disorder.