Study finds link between air quality and diabetes

Air pollution may be contributing to a rise in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in the U.S., according to recent research from Children's Hospital Boston.

The findings, which were published in the journal Diabetes Care show that areas with high levels of fine particles in the air - a common component of haze, smoke and car exhaust - have a higher rate of diabetes than areas where the air is clearer.

Researchers compared data on air quality from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and diabetes prevalence from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. After adjusting for risk factors like obesity, exercise, geographic latitude, ethnicity and population density, they found a correlation between diabetes and air pollution.

"We didn't have data on individual exposure, so we can't prove causality, and we can't know exactly the mechanism of these peoples' diabetes," said John Brownstein, who led the study. "But pollution came across as a significant predictor in all our models."

He added that diabetes prevalence was correlated to air pollution even at exposure levels that the EPA says are safe.