Tangled link between pollution and diabetes

IN OCTOBER, Diabetes Care published an epidemiological study by researchers from Children’s Hospital Boston that produced the strongest evidence to date of a link between air pollution and diabetes. 

The team used data from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to measure the association between higher levels of fine particles in the air and rates of diabetes. 

What they found was that for every additional 10 mg of particulate matter, the prevalence of diabetes increased by 1%. Even in counties where air pollution fell within the EPA’s guidelines, those with the highest levels had diabetes rates that were 20% higher than those with the lowest levels. 

The team adjusted for risk factors such as obesity rates, population density, ethnicity, income, education, and health insurance, but the association persisted. 

Co-author and epidemiologist Dr John Brownstein

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