The team of researchers also found that being exposed to air pollution was comparable to eating a high-fat diet.
In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers have found that air pollution can play a role in the development of diseases such as diabetes. The study, conducted by Indian-origin researcher Sanjay Rajagopalan from the University Hospitals Harrington in the US examined the impact of air pollution after creating an environment that mimicked a polluted day in New Delhi or Beijing.
As per a statement released by University Hospitals, researchers found that air pollution was a ‘risk factor for a risk factor’ that contributed to fatal problems like heart attack and stroke as well.
Rajagopalan, the first author of the study stated that they concentrated fine particles of air pollution, called particulate matter components. They are < 2.5 microns which usually develop from human impacts on the environment through automobile exhaust and other fossil fuels.
As per the statement, these particles have been strongly connected to risk factors for disease. The research team has shown that exposure to air pollution can increase the likelihood of risk factors such as insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
In the mouse model study, three groups were placed under observation with a control group receiving clean filtered air, a group getting exposed to polluted air for 24 weeks and a group fed a high-fat diet. Researchers found that being exposed to air pollution was comparable to eating a high-fat diet. “Both the air pollution and high-fat diet groups showed insulin resistance and abnormal metabolism – just like one would see in a pre-diabetic state,” the statement added.
Dr Rajagopalan added that once the air pollution was removed from the environment, the mice started appearing healthier and the pre-diabetic state seemed to reverse on its own.
The researchers are planning to involve more experts and the National Institute of Health to explore the possibility of clinical trials to compare heart health and the level of air pollution.
The results of the study were published in the Journal of Clinical Investigations.