Air Pollution Linked to Increase in Inflammation in Patients Who Take Insulin

First Posted: Apr 10, 2015 12:12 PM EDT

For those on insulin, traffic pollution may be a huge problem. Scientists have found that those with type 2 diabetes using insulin and who lived next to roads with heavy traffic had markedly increased C-creative protein, a marker of inflammation, compared to those living in lower traffic areas.

While previous studies have looked at general health in relation to air pollution, they haven't considered he role that type of medication may play in relation to inflammation for people with diabetes. That's why researchers examined 356 volunteers.

Approximately 20 percent of the participants in the study lived within 100 meters of one or more roads with more than 20,000 vehicles per day. Another 20 percent lived within 100 to 200 meters of roads with more than 20,000 vehicles per day.

"C-reactive protein (CRP) concentration increased 75 to 200 percent over the two-year period for those 10 percent of study participants living in the highest traffic areas who were using insulin when compared to those living in lower traffic areas," said Christine Rioux, one of the researchers, in a news release. "In contrast, CRP concentration did not increase for the 22 percent of people taking metformin and/or other oral diabetes medications who were also living in high traffic areas."

It's important to understand who is most vulnerable to the adverse effects of traffic in order to help safeguard individuals from harmful health effects.

"People on insulin appear to be even more susceptible to increases in inflammation when living in high traffic areas," said Rioux. "People can reduce their exposure to traffic pollution by keeping windows closed during the heaviest  traffic periods of the day, using air conditions in the summer months and avoiding heavy exercise near busy roads, especially during peak traffic times."

The findings are published in the journal Environmental Pollution.

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