UB researcher observes strong statistical correlation between prevalence of diabetes, air pollution

July 26, 2002

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A dramatic statistical correlation between the prevalence of diabetes and air pollution levels has been demonstrated by a University at Buffalo researcher who publishes his observations in the August issue of the journal, Diabetes Care.

The correlation appears in the "Letters: Observations" column of the journal in which researchers report information often as a way of suggesting areas in which further, rigorous studies should be done.

Alan Lockwood, M.D., professor of neurology and nuclear medicine in the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo, and the author of the letter, stated that while the statistical analysis does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship between diabetes and air pollution, the correlation is strong enough to warrant further research.

"The significance of this relationship demands attention," he said. "The correlation between the two was striking. The probability that these two variables are not related is approximately five chances in 100,000."

It's estimated that diabetes affects more than 15 million Americans, one-third of whom are undiagnosed. The cost of the disease has been put at more than $98 billion; with diabetes accounting for 1 out of every 7 health-care dollars spent in the U.S.

Lockwood compared data showing the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) for each U.S. state with data showing the prevalence of diabetes in the states. He found a significant relationship between TRI emissions and the prevalence of diabetes. Some heavily industrialized states, such as Ohio, for example, had high levels of TRI emissions --147 million pounds of emissions -- and a high prevalence of diabetes -- 7.5 percent of the state's population. Conversely, states with low TRI emissions -- such as Alaska, which had 2.6 million pounds of emissions and 4.4 percent prevalence of diabetes -- showed a low prevalence of the disease.

Diabetes prevalence has risen substantially over the past 10 years, according to Lockwood's letter, which cites the 49 percent increase in the disease reported in the 2000 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System published by the Centers for Disease Control. Many recent studies and reports have investigated the connection between the increase in obesity and the increase in the disease. In addition, Lockwood's letter notes, "environmental toxins, notably dioxins, also have been suggested as contributing factors.

"The nature of the relationship between air pollutants and diabetes remains to be determined, but there is a potentially plausible link," he said. "What may happen is that some pollutants, such as dioxins, are being concentrated in the fat of obese people and these then may contribute to the development of diabetes. That is the hypothesis."

Lockwood became interested in a possible correlation between diabetes and air pollution while examining the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), a list of the discharge of air pollutants over certain levels that industry must report, and which are available on the Web site of the Environmental Protection Agency.

He was studying the TRI data as part of his duties as a member of the national group, Physicians for Social Responsibility. Lockwood chairs its committee on the environment and health.

Around the same time, he said he happened to read an article in The New York Times about the geographic distribution of diabetes in the U.S. The article was accompanied by a map that showed areas in the U.S. where the prevalence of the disease was highest in 2000.

"It occurred to me that the map in The Times looked a lot like the map of the TRI data," said Lockwood.

He then tracked down the source of the data in The Times map, which was the Journal of the American Medical Association; downloaded the 1999 TRI data off of the Environmental Protection Agency Web site, and plugged these data into a popular statistics software package.
-end-


University at Buffalo

Related Diabetes Articles from Brightsurf:

New diabetes medication reduced heart event risk in those with diabetes and kidney disease
Sotagliflozin - a type of medication known as an SGLT2 inhibitor primarily prescribed for Type 2 diabetes - reduces the risk of adverse cardiovascular events for patients with diabetes and kidney disease.

Diabetes drug boosts survival in patients with type 2 diabetes and COVID-19 pneumonia
Sitagliptin, a drug to lower blood sugar in type 2 diabetes, also improves survival in diabetic patients hospitalized with COVID-19, suggests a multicenter observational study in Italy.

Making sense of diabetes
Throughout her 38-year nursing career, Laurel Despins has progressed from a bedside nurse to a clinical nurse specialist and has worked in medical, surgical and cardiac intensive care units.

Helping teens with type 1 diabetes improve diabetes control with MyDiaText
Adolescence is a difficult period of development, made more complex for those with Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM).

Diabetes-in-a-dish model uncovers new insights into the cause of type 2 diabetes
Researchers have developed a novel 'disease-in-a-dish' model to study the basic molecular factors that lead to the development of type 2 diabetes, uncovering the potential existence of major signaling defects both inside and outside of the classical insulin signaling cascade, and providing new perspectives on the mechanisms behind insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes and possibly opportunities for the development of novel therapeutics for the disease.

Tele-diabetes to manage new-onset diabetes during COVID-19 pandemic
Two new case studies highlight the use of tele-diabetes to manage new-onset type 1 diabetes in an adult and an infant during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Genetic profile may predict type 2 diabetes risk among women with gestational diabetes
Women who go on to develop type 2 diabetes after having gestational, or pregnancy-related, diabetes are more likely to have particular genetic profiles, suggests an analysis by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and other institutions.

Maternal gestational diabetes linked to diabetes in children
Children and youth of mothers who had gestational diabetes during pregnancy are at increased risk of diabetes themselves, according to new research published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Two diabetes medications don't slow progression of type 2 diabetes in youth
In youth with impaired glucose tolerance or recent-onset type 2 diabetes, neither initial treatment with long-acting insulin followed by the drug metformin, nor metformin alone preserved the body's ability to make insulin, according to results published online June 25 in Diabetes Care.

People with diabetes visit the dentist less frequently despite link between diabetes, oral health
Adults with diabetes are less likely to visit the dentist than people with prediabetes or without diabetes, finds a new study led by researchers at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing and East Carolina University's Brody School of Medicine.

Read More: Diabetes News and Diabetes Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.