University of Southern California found a correlation between increased air pollution and Type 2 diabetes in Latino children.
For about 3.5 years, scientists tried to find a relation between residential air pollution and diabetes. The reason lies in the breakdown of the beta cells, which produce insulin and decrease the blood sugar levels to normal levels. If these cells breakdown or get destroyed, insulin becomes insufficient for the sugar consumed and Type 2 diabetes develops.
In the 3.5 years of observation, when the children turned 18, their pancreatic cells’ efficiency was decreased to 13 percent less. According to Michael Goran, co-director of the Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, this decrease in efficiency causes the Type 2 diabetes to evolve.
The reason behind why air pollution affects the body is a particle called PM 2.5. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that automobiles and power plants produce nitrogen dioxide and PM2.5 particles. Children living in such environments are more prone to diseases.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention stated that diabetes has increased fourfold in the past four decades. If extrapolated, the trend will result in Americans having obesity increased by one third in 2050.
Frank Gilliland, a professor at the Keck School of Medicine, strongly believes in the equal effect of air pollution on obesity and Type 2 diabetes. There is a belief that sedentary life and over-eating affect obesity only. Yet, the uptick is also caused by much more complex factors.
Polluted Areas Cause the Highest Risk
The result of this research came from the analysis of 314 overweight Latino children. After observing children for approximately 3.5 years, the Study of Latino Adolescents at Risk of Type 2 Diabetes (SOLAR) came to the conclusion that the Los Angeles County children did not have Type 2 diabetes, but they had the potential to develop it in the future.
Each year, the participants fasted and then came to the Childhood Obesity Research Center at USC for a physical exam and to have their glucose and insulin levels measured over a span of two hours.
The children, who lived in the polluted area, had their blood insulin increased by 27 percent after they didn’t eat for 12 hours. Also, their insulin levels increased after being tested with the two-hour glucose test. This imbalanced hormone change shows that if exposed to increased air pollution, the children’s risk of building Type 2 diabetes increases.
Steps people can take to reduce their risk
A temporary solution to reducing the effects of nitrogen dioxide and PM 2.5 can be avoiding exposure from an early age. To avoid the exposure, masks can be worn. Otherwise, if Type 2 diabetes occurs due to an unhealthy lifestyle, then solutions toward that can be consulted with a doctor.
Today, there are 8 million people in the U.S. who have undiagnosed diabetes. The statistics claim that this equals to 28 percent of the people with diabetes.
The study has been only made on Latino children, usually with the lowest socio-economic status. The study added that future research will be made on healthy people.