Urban air pollution from traffic promotes high blood pressure along with a slightly increased risk of diabetes, and by inference, prediabetes.
Another diabetes study recently published in Diabetes Care suggests that people who do not live “out in the country,” but in areas with high levels of traffic pollution may have a slightly increased risk of developing diabetes.
They found that people living in urban areas with high levels of nitrogen dioxide, a pollutant found in traffic exhaust, were 4% more likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes than people living in neighborhoods with cleaner air. The findings were borderline statistically significant, nevertheless the authors concluded that
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.”
Interestingly, pollution’s negative effects were significantly enhanced in nonsmokers. Healthier people in general seemed to be at greater risk peril from the influence of air pollution, with diabetes risk jumping by 10% in physically active people and 12% in non-smokers. I find it unusual that healthier individuals may be more susceptible to effects of air pollution. I am not sure why that would be. Do smokers build up some sort of tolerance to pollution from inhaling smoke?
The researchers looked at data on 51,818 residents of Denmark’s two largest cities. Over an average 9.7 years. 5.5 % of the participants aged 50 to 65 at the start of the study came down with confirmed diabetes.
There are many factors that contribute to our health, or lack thereof. This study does not prove that air pollution itself causes an increased risk of diabetes, but it may be a part of the puzzle for some people.
Another study looking at the prevalence of hypertension among over 5,000 postmenopausal women found if someone lived in close proximity to a major roadway they were more likely to have high blood pressure.
Comparing people who lived 1000 meters from a major roadway to people who lived 100 meters from a major roadway, the researchers found those who lived at 100 meters had a 9% (3% versus 16%) higher prevalence of high blood pressure.
I have also posted on air pollution speeding up hardening of the arteries. Breathing air pollution increases systemic inflammation and this apparently is the instigating factor for diabetes development and “hardening of the arteries.”