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Studies Suggest Environmental Link to Diabetes

May 15, 2013
Environmental Protection

Two separate European studies have shown links between environmental factors and type 2 diabetes. Researchers in Denmark compared traffic noise levels with the incidence of diabetes in 57,000 people and found that the risk of developing the disease increased by 8-11% for every 10 decibel rise in traffic noise. Stress and lack of sleep created by noise may explain the results as both can have a negative affect on the bodies ability to regulate glucose and insulin activity. The Danish study was taken amongst 50 to 64 year olds who were part of the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health group between 1993 and 1997.

Work carried out by scientists in Munich has shown a positive correlation between insulin resistance and children living near major roads. 397 ten year olds took part with blood samples taken to establish the level of glucose and insulin. The results showed that every 500m distance closer to major roads increased the risk by 7%. The study concluding that levels of insulin resistance which can lead to diabetes were greater in children with higher exposure to air pollution, such as nitrogen dioxide and fine particulate matter. 

Until now similar studies in adults have been inconclusive but Frank Kelly, Professor of Environmental Health at King’s College London, said children were more vulnerable to the effects of air pollution. “They have a larger lung-to-body volume ratio, their airway epithelium is more permeable to air pollutants, and the lung defence mechanisms against particulate matter pollution and gaseous pollution are not fully evolved.” He believes the German study is of particular interest in light of London’s current pollution problems saying, “This finding is especially relevant for cities in the UK such as London, which regularly exceeds current EU limit values for nitrogen dioxide. Breathing the same pollutant concentrations, children may have a two to fourfold higher dose reaching the lung compared with adults.”

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