Poor air quality link to the development of type 2 diabetes

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In a new study from UCLA and elsewhere, researchers found older Californians who live in communities with poor air quality, even those who engage—as recommended—in physical activities but do so outdoors, have a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.

Although development of diabetes has typically been related to obesity and physical inactivity, its causes are complex.

Recent research has suggested that environmental risk factors, including air pollution, also play a major role.

The team studied the impact of ozone (O3), a common element of air pollution, on human health.

They found the O3-related risk of developing diabetes was 1.5 times higher in the higher-outdoor activity group, and even in the lower activity group, there is an observably higher risk compared with those living in less polluted communities.

They also found the beneficial effects that outdoor physical activities have on human health may have to be weighed against the detrimental impacts of air pollution in areas affected by high pollution levels.

The team analyzed the health histories of more than 1,000 Mexican-American participants from the Sacramento Area Latino Study on Aging (SALSA), conducted from 1998 to 2007.

They focused on residents of a six-county area surrounding Sacramento, all older Mexican-Americans (60 years and up) who enrolled in the Sacramento Area Latino Study on Aging, or SALSA.

They reviewed the health information recorded during the surveys, which continued until 2007 on a regular basis, and the pollution, air quality, and traffic levels in the same neighborhoods. They found that of almost 1,800 individuals surveyed, 186 newly developed diabetes.

The team found the individuals who developed diabetes lived in communities with higher ozone exposure, and those who were more likely to exercise outdoors, defined as gardening and yardwork, walking, swimming, or dancing; hunting, camping, and boating; and outdoor sports, including golf were at higher risk.

They say that policies and strategies are needed to reduce ozone exposure in communities to guarantee that the health benefits from physical activity are not diminished by pollution exposure, especially in vulnerable populations.

If you care about diabetes and your health, please read studies about green tea drinking linked to type 2 diabetes and findings of 5 foods to eat or avoid to control pre-diabetes.

For more information about diabetes prevention and treatment, please see recent studies about type 2 diabetes linked to low back pain and neck pain and results showing that this eye health problem is dangerous for people with diabetes.

The study is published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. One author of the study is Dr. Beate Ritz.

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