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Guest Thinkers

Tailpipe Diabetes: Traffic Pollution Is Getting Into More Than Your Lungs

High fructose corn syrup, sedentary lifestyles, endocrine disrupting chemical BPA in our plastic water bottles… we’re already up against enough hurdles when it comes to combating the diabetes epidemic. But now we’ve got another hurdle to clear: the pollution our cars and other motor vehicles put into the air.

According to a study published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP), there may be a significant correlation between exposure to traffic-related air pollution and incident type 2 diabetes in women. The German researchers who authored the article studied 1,175 middle-aged, German women living in urban and rural areas, and found that women living near major roadways were twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes. The researchers pinpointed nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and the soot in ambient fine particulate matter (PM) – two components of traffic pollution – as primary culprits. As if anyone needed another reason not to want to live near the highway.

And male folk, sorry, but you’re not off the hook. The study happened to have taken women as its subjects, but the authors note that they would expect no significant difference in results for a similar study conducted on men.

Though previous studies have pointed to an increased likelihood of diabetes for people living in urban areas, this was the first to focus specifically on the role played by traffic-related air pollution.

What do you say? Clear the roads, clear the air? Bikes not bombs?

Read the full EHP article here.


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