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Air pollution as risk factor for diabetes in India: Study

Amid increasing levels of air pollution and cases of diabetes in India, a large study has established poor air quality as a risk factor for the development of blood sugar conditions in the country. To date, diet, obesity, and physical exercise were the major factors behind the increased prevalence of diabetes.

Now, the study, published in the ‘British Medical Journal’ (BMJ), showed that inhaling polluted air with high amounts of PM2.5 particles led to high blood sugar levels and increased Type-2 diabetes incidence.

The study examined the associations between ambient PM2.5 levels and fasting plasma glucose (FPG), glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c), and incident Type-2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) among 12,064 participants in an adult cohort from urban Chennai and Delhi.

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The findings showed that for every 10 microgram/cubic meter increase in annual average PM2.5 level in the two cities, the risk for diabetes increased by 22 percent.

“We observed that 10 microgram/cubic meter differences in monthly average exposure to PM2.5 were associated with a 0.40 mg/dL increase in FPG and 0.021 unit increase in HbA1c,” said correspondence author Dr. Siddhartha Mandal from Centre for Chronic Disease Control, New Delhi, in the paper.

 “Further, 10 microgram/cubic meter differences in annual average PM2.5 was associated with 1.22 times increased risk of incident T2DM, with non-linear exposure-response,” he added. The findings are alarming as India is already facing a high burden of diabetes as well as currently reeling under increased pollution levels.

The recent Indian Council of Medical Research study titled INdia DIABetes shows that a tenth of all Indians have diabetes.

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