Air Pollution Linked to Diabetes

Air pollution from traffic may contribute to an increase in new diabetes diagnoses

THURSDAY, Dec. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Long-term exposure to air pollution from traffic is associated with a higher incidence of diabetes in adults, especially in nonsmokers, the physically active, and individuals who lead a healthy lifestyle, according to research published in the January issue of Diabetes Care.

Zorana J. Andersen, Ph.D., of the Institute of Cancer Epidemiology in Copenhagen, Denmark, and colleagues analyzed data from 57,053 patients in the Danish National Diabetes Register who participated in the Danish Diet, Cancer, and Health cohort. Mean levels of nitrogen dioxide since 1971 were estimated at the participants' residential addresses and association with diabetes incidence was studied via Cox regression analysis.

According to the researchers, 4,040 of 51,818 patients (7.8 percent) were newly diagnosed with diabetes over a mean follow-up of 9.7 years, with 2,877 confirmed cases (5.5 percent). A borderline significant link was found between confirmed diabetes cases and air pollution (hazard ratio [HR], 1.04), but there was no significant association found when the two diabetes groups were combined (HR, 1.00). In the confirmed diabetes group, effects of air pollution were significantly increased in nonsmokers (HR, 1.12) and physically active people (HR, 1.10).

"Long-term exposure to traffic-related air pollution may contribute to the development of diabetes, especially in individuals with a healthy lifestyle, nonsmokers, and physically active individuals," the authors write.

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