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30-09-2010 | Diabetes | Article

High particulate matter exposure may increase risk for Type 2 diabetes


Free abstract

MedWire News: Increased exposure to airborne particulate matter measuring less than 2.5 µm in diameter (PM2.5), is associated with an elevated risk for Type 2 diabetes, show US study results.

Ambient air pollution has been shown to adversely affect various aspects of human health. In this study, John Brownstein (Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts) and colleagues assessed the influence of increasing levels of PM2.5 on risk for Type 2 diabetes.

The researchers used data obtained from both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for 2004 and 2005 to evaluate levels of PM2.5 exposure and diabetes prevalence at the county level.

The researchers found that the prevalence of diabetes increased with increasing PM2.5 concentrations, such that a 1% increase in diabetes prevalence was linked to a 10 µ/m3 increase in PM2.5 exposure.

The team found that even in counties within EPA-based guidelines for PM2.5 exposure, individuals with the highest exposure to PM2.5 had a more than 20% increased prevalence of diabetes compared with those with the lowest exposure. This association remained after adjusting for obesity rates, population density, ethnicity, income, education, and health insurance.

"Our findings are consistent with the few studies of geographically small areas that have also suggested a relationship between diabetes and air pollution from either road traffic or industrial facilities," write Brownstein et al in the journal Diabetes Care.

They conclude: "Our results, although associative, demonstrate that additional research is needed to understand the role that PM2.5 plays in the inflammatory pathway or other pollution-mediated mechanisms giving rise to diabetes.

"Such research could lead to novel therapeutic approaches to reduce pollution-induced inflammation."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Helen Albert