It has been suggested for some time that PM2·5 (the smallest type of particulates found in emissions which go unfiltered into the lungs) are associated with increased risk of diabetes; however, nobody really knew how big the effect was.
To really dig down on what was happening, last year scientists took a group of 1,729,108 US veterans and followed them to see what happened over an 8.5-year period, taking note of the all the fine details, where they live and PM2.5 levels.
Diabetes was recorded by using the International Classification of Diseases-9 code, diabetes medication prescription or abnormal blood glucose level tests.
A 10 μg/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre) increase in PM2·5 was associated with increased risk of diabetes and exposure to PM2·5 was associated with increased risk of death. An integrated exposure response function showed that the risk of diabetes increased substantially above 2·4 μg/m3, and then exhibited a more moderate increase at concentrations above 10 μg/m3.
Globally, ambient PM2·5 contributed to about 3.2million incident cases of diabetes, about 8.2million disability adjusted life year (DALYs) caused by diabetes, and 206,105 deaths from diabetes attributable to PM2·5 exposure, especially in low-income and lower-to-middle-income countries.
Importantly, the study shows that substantial risk exists at concentrations well below those outlined in the air quality standards of WHO and national and international regulatory agencies, meaning targets need to tighten even further.
The biological mechanism underpinning the association is based on the premise that pollutants enter the bloodstream where they might interact with tissue components to produce pathological effects. This mechanism is now supported by evidence both in experimental models and humans that inhaled nanoparticles, which when sufficiently small can enter the bloodstream and interact with distant organs—including liver tissue—and exhibit affinity to accumulate at sites of blood vessel (vascular) inflammation.
Both research studies and human evidence suggest that exposure to ambient air pollutants can lead to clinically significant disturbances in oxidative stress, inflammation, cell division and broad metabolic derangements in glucose and insulin homoeostasis. This includes glucose intolerance, decreased insulin sensitivity and impaired secretion, and increased blood lipid concentrations, thus providing biological mechanistic plausibility to the association of PM2·5 exposure and the risk of diabetes.
The global burden of diabetes attributable to PM2·5 air pollution is significant. Reduction in exposure will yield substantial health benefits, but protecting the body from not only breathing particles in, but also providing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents must also become a focus until things that contribute to emissions, such as diesel fuels, are faded out.
Altruvita’s Air Pollution Formula is designed to provide natural support in a polluted world, click here to learn more about this food supplement.
New data has been published which aims to predict the impact of 2 different pollutants on the life expectancy of children born in London in 201, assuming they remained living in the city all their life.
Diesel emissions are the biggest source of air pollution in towns and cities, and a source of some of the most dangerous air pollutants for health: NO2 and particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5). Diesel vehicles produce more of these dangerous pollutants than their petrol counterparts.
So, what did the researchers find out? Their calculations showed that boys are expected to live 9.5 months less due to the tiny particulates PM 2.5, and 17 months less due to NO2 – nitrogen dioxide. Girls are expected to live 9 months less due to PM 2.5 and 15.5 months less due to NO2.
There are multiple sources of outdoor air pollution, however in urban areas the single biggest source is road transport. Children in particular are vulnerable to the effects of air pollution from traffic. Even within the womb, a child can be affected by pollution.
It’s no surprise that research as emotive as this has caused people working in the medical profession to take a stand against diesel emissions. ‘Doctors Against Diesel’ is a public health campaign aiming to stop children’s health being affected by air pollution and supporting alternatives to diesel. Many people, rich or poor, spend their lives in cities like London and it does have significant effects on their health. It doesn’t matter who you are, we’re all stuck breathing in the same air.
It’s also worth noting that the risks from air pollution do increase among those living in the most deprived communities, and particularly children in these areas. This is due to the combined impacts of poor housing and air quality indoors, the stress of living on a low income and limited access to healthy food and/or green spaces to exercise.
If you want to protect yourself against the harmful effects of pollution, the best way would be to avoid polluted cities, although of course this is not realistic for millions of people living in the UK. A diet high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds is probably going to be helpful for those people living in cities or near main roads, however the research currently sits more with a few food supplements providing benefit. Read our insightful Air Pollution Survival Guide for more detailed information.
Let’s face it, there are no winners when it comes to air pollution. Plants, animals and humans all absorb it one way or another.
If you have ever experienced true smog or breathed in the dirty exhaust fumes when an old car drives past, you’ll know that pollution irritates the parts of your body that comes into contact with it – your chest (lungs), skin and eyes. Wheezing, ageing and itchy skin and sore eyes are really common symptoms of exposure to air pollution. The latest research also shows that much more life-threatening medical changes can happen too.
A team at King’s College London published data from 9 UK cities – London, Birmingham, Bristol, Derby, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford and Southampton. They found that high air pollution levels in those cities trigger hundreds more heart attacks, strokes and acute asthma attacks each year.
From ambulance call data, they calculated that the days with above average pollution levels would see an extra 124 cardiac arrests over the year. On days with high pollution levels, across the nine cities in total, they calculated that there would be a total of 231 additional hospital admissions for stroke, with an extra 193 children and adults taken to hospital for asthma treatment.
In London, high-pollution days would see an extra 87 heart attacks per year and an extra 144 strokes. 74 children and 33 adults would end up in hospital with asthma-related issues.
Among the long-term risks associated with high pollution levels are stunted lung growth and low birth weight.
The King’s College research also suggests cutting air pollution by a fifth, which is more than attainable over a short period, would decrease incidents of lung cancer by between 5% and 7% across the nine cities surveyed.
None of this should be a huge shock, after all we are breathing in toxic chemicals and particulates and of course air pollution costs lives and causes a range of illnesses, thus impacting more on the financial constraints of the health service.
The UK hosted an international clean air summit earlier in the month with the aim of exploring ways to improve air quality. Along with cleaning up the air in our environment, it may also be possible to support your health with a range of actions and a food supplement which contains ingredients proven to work against pollution. Read our Air Pollution Survival Guide to find out more.
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