Diabetes “Strongly Linked” to Air Pollution
Nearly 24 million Americans have diabetes and another 57 million have pre-diabetes, a precursor to the actual disease. Each year, another 1.6 million cases are diagnosed, making this one of the fastest growing public health problems in the United States.
While diabetes is often linked to lifestyle factors like poor diet and inactivity, there’s another potential cause that’s making headlines because it’s not only extremely prevalent, but also extremely difficult to avoid.
Air Pollution Increases Diabetes Risks
A large, new population-based study found a 1 percent increase in diabetes rates for every 10 microgram per cubic meter rise in fine particulate matter, such as that from car exhaust or smoke.
The link remained even after accounting for other diabetes risk factors like obesity, exercise, ethnicity and population density -- and occurred even in counties where pollution levels are within safe ranges.
In fact, as USA Today reported, areas that had the highest levels of particulate pollution had a more than 20 percent increase in diabetes prevalence compared to counties with the lowest pollution -- even though all were within EPA safety limits
"From a policy perspective, the findings suggest that the current EPA limits on exposure may not be adequate to prevent negative public health outcomes from particulate matter exposure," study co-author John Brownstein told USA Today.
How Does Air Pollution Lead to Diabetes?
It has not yet been proven that air pollution causes diabetes, however animal studies have linked air pollution with insulin resistance and other diabetes risk factors.
In one study by researchers at Ohio State University Medical Center, Dr. Sanjay Rajagopalan reported that air pollution caused inflammation and increased body fat, and interfered with how mice processed insulin. The ill effects from the air pollution were strongest when coupled with a poor diet.
As the American Diabetes Association explains:
“In type 2 diabetes, either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin. Insulin is necessary for the body to be able to use glucose for energy.
When you eat food, the body breaks down all of the sugars and starches into glucose, which is the basic fuel for the cells in the body. Insulin takes the sugar from the blood into the cells. When glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, it can lead to diabetes complications.”
Glucose builds up in your bloodstream because your cells have become resistant to insulin, and your pancreas cannot produce enough to lower the sugar in your blood. While the reasons this happens are not entirely understood, it’s thought that both lifestyle and environmental factors may play a role.
Air Pollution Impacts Far More Than Your Lungs
Particulate matter is made up of hundreds of different compounds, many of which are carcinogenic and toxic. While many of these particles are sneezed out of your body as a form of natural defense, the small ones the size of 10 microns or less end up getting trapped in your lungs. Once in your lungs, they travel to your bloodstream and can cause serious health issues.
Particle pollution is classified as the deadliest and most dangerous of outdoor air pollutants in America. It increases your risk of serious health conditions and spikes the number of visits to the emergency room for asthma attacks and cardiovascular disease. Certain studies have shown a direct link between particle pollution and heart attacks and strokes.
Generally speaking, however, air pollution affects everyone a little bit differently and can cause everything from difficulty breathing, nausea and asthma attacks to lung cancer, heart disease and genetic abnormalities in newborns.
People with diabetes, however, are particularly at risk from air pollution’s ill effects, as the ability of the blood vessels to control blood flow is impaired among this group. Because of this, people with diabetes are at an increased risk of heart problems when air pollution levels are high, a study published in the journal Circulation found.
Said Marie O'Neill, Ph.D., an epidemiologist and lead author of the study:
"We observed an 11 percent decrease in diabetics' vascular reactivity on days when sulfate particle concentrations were higher than normal ... We also noted a 13 percent decrease in their vascular reactivity on days with higher-than-normal black carbon concentrations ...
We hope our study will remind people that reducing air pollution is important for everyone's health, but especially for vulnerable members of our population, including the elderly and people with chronic health problems such as diabetes."
Filtering Your Home’s Air is a Necessity
Six out of 10 Americans are surrounded by air pollution that’s toxic enough to endanger their lives, but this estimate may actually be low considering diabetes risks occurred even at “safe” levels of air pollution.
You can somewhat reduce your risk by limiting the amount of time you spend outside, staying away from high-traffic areas, and avoiding the use of gasoline-powered lawn equipment or other gasoline-powered tools. However, one of the worst places for air pollution is actually inside your home.
As the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states:
“There are many sources of indoor air pollution in any home. These include combustion sources such as oil, gas, kerosene, coal, wood, and tobacco products; building materials and furnishings as diverse as deteriorated, asbestos-containing insulation, wet or damp carpet, and cabinetry or furniture made of certain pressed wood products; products for household cleaning and maintenance, personal care, or hobbies; central heating and cooling systems and humidification devices; and outdoor sources such as radon, pesticides, and outdoor air pollution.
Some sources, such as building materials, furnishings, and household products like air fresheners, release pollutants more or less continuously. Other sources, related to activities carried out in the home, release pollutants intermittently. These include smoking, the use of unvented or malfunctioning stoves, furnaces, or space heaters, the use of solvents in cleaning and hobby activities, the use of paint strippers in redecorating activities, and the use of cleaning products and pesticides in house-keeping.
High pollutant concentrations can remain in the air for long periods after some of these activities.
If too little outdoor air enters a home, pollutants can accumulate to levels that can pose health and comfort problems. Unless they are built with special mechanical means of ventilation, homes that are designed and constructed to minimize the amount of outdoor air that can "leak" into and out of the home may have higher pollutant levels than other homes. However, because some weather conditions can drastically reduce the amount of outdoor air that enters a home, pollutants can build up even in homes that are normally considered "leaky."”
So filtering your home’s air is one of the most important, and smartest, moves you can make for your and your family’s health. The challenge with most air filters or purifiers is that air must be drawn to the unit, either through natural airflow, or through the use of a fan. This method results in uneven treatment and can leave pockets of polluted air, plus fans are noisy, subject to failure, and require higher levels of electricity.
Unlike most air purifiers, the PIONAIR™ Air Treatment System doesn't wait for pollutants to contact a filter or plate. Instead, the PIONAIR generates air-purifying technology that migrates through the area and neutralizes organic odors, microbes, & molds at their source. As a result, the PIONAIR produces fresh clean air throughout your home or office uniformly, by addressing the pollutant source - without the use of fans, filters, or plates!
Two Models Available -- How to Choose the Appropriate Model
There are two different models available. The original PIONAIR is especially effective against mold, mildew, organic odors, and chemical vapors (such as formaldehyde). The PIONAIR is also effective against pollen, dust, pet dander, and smoke, although for maximum relief from these types of particulate, we most highly recommend the new PIONAIR SMART POINTE system.
The PIONAIR SMART POINTE uses the same technology as the original PIONAIR system, with the added benefit of actively generated negative ions. These actively generated negative ions clear the air of particulate FASTER than the original PIONAIR system. Therefore, the PIONAIR SMART POINTE is effective against particulate such as pollen, dust, pet dander, and smoke, AS WELL AS mold, mildew, organic odors, and chemical vapors (such as formaldehyde).
So if you are struggling with airborne particulate, such as pollen, dust, pet dander, or smoke, choose the SMART POINTE. If you do not have airborne particulate, choose the Standard PIONAIR. Both the Standard and the SMART POINTE are effective against mold, mildew, organic odors, or chemical vapors (such as formaldehyde).
For maximum effect, both the original PIONAIR and the PIONAIR SMARTE POINTE systems are intended for around-the-clock use.
Don’t Forget About the Air in Your Car!
The air in your car is also a potential hotbed for toxins, a report by The Ecology Center revealed. The toxins, which outgas from upholstery, wiring, trim, seats, your dashboard and more, included antimony, arsenic, chromium, cobalt, copper, mercury, bromine, chlorine, lead and others.
Many of the toxins have been linked to cancer, allergies and other health problems. So if you spend any length of time in your car each day, such as while commuting to and from work, running errands, etc., you should purify the air in your car with a personal air purifier like The Car Ionizer.
The Car Ionizer uses negative ions to eliminate pollutants and allergens from the air in your car. There are no filters to be changed and it can be recharged over and over by plugging it into your car adapter.
And Remember, Diabetes Responds Well to Healthy Lifestyle Choices
Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition and one that can be difficult to manage, so your best route is prevention. Fortunately, healthy lifestyle choices can help you to prevent type 2 diabetes, and even reverse the disease if you have pre-diabetes.
For tips on how to lower your risk of diabetes naturally, please see Slow Sneaky Deadly Diabetes: How to Prevent and Fight Diabetes.
SixWise Says ...
As it stands, diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, and while nearly 18 million people have already been diagnosed, another 5.7 million have not.
Health Threats from Air Pollution Greater for Diabetics
Air Pollution Increases Your Risk of Heart Attack, Stroke and More
Diabetes Care 2010 Oct;33(10):2196-201.
USAToday.com October 5, 2010
MedicalNewsToday.com January 20, 2009
Circulation May 31, 2005
American Diabetes Association