Scientists at the German Centre for Diabetes Research, have been studying the effect of pollution particles on insulin resistance in humans.
They found that exposure to air pollution near your home increases the risk of developing insulin resistance as a pre-diabetic state of type 2 diabetes.
“Whether the disease becomes manifest and when this occurs is not only due to lifestyle or genetic factors, but also due to traffic-related air pollution,” said researcher Professor Annette Peters.
The study, which used data from 3,000 patients, concluded that people who already have an impaired glucose metabolism (pre-diabetic individuals) are particularly vulnerable to the effects of pollution.
The lead author of the study Dr. Kathrin Wolf explained: “In these individuals, the association between increases in their blood marker levels and increases in air pollutant concentrations is particularly significant.”
The study, which was reported in the journal Diabetes, also called for governments to review policies on air pollution.
The authors are concerned that although the concentration of air pollutants present in the study (which took place in the city of Augsburg) falls below EU thresholds, they are above the guidelines set by the World Health Organisation.
This inconsistency in values between the EU and WHO has led the authors to demand government policy changes: “Lowering the threshold for acceptable air pollution levels would be a prudent step.”
Exposure to air pollution has also been established as a risk factor in respiratory and cardiovascular disease.