October 26


Is Air Pollution Affecting Blood Glucose Levels?

By Gabriela

October 26, 2022

Air pollution might be odorless and hard to see with our naked eye, but it’s a serious threat to our health. Sometimes artificial fragrances can smell good even though they are harmful pollutants.

But, these dangerous chemicals and particles are associated with a wide range of health problems. They include respiratory diseases, allergies, thyroid disorders, cardiovascular diseases, birth defects, premature birth, hypertension, and cognitive decline.

However, what about diabetes? Is air pollution somehow linked to this chronic disease?

Air Pollution and Type 2

Increasing numbers of Medical News Today suggest that exposure to air pollutants raises the risk of developing type 2. They prove the link between air contaminant levels and the severity of human insulin sensitivity.

What’s more, they correlate the levels of harmful particulate matter in the environment with those of blood sugar levels in people who live in those areas.

All of this data indicates that those living in polluted areas have higher blood glucose levels than people living in less polluted areas. This suggests people living in highly polluted areas have more chances of developing the disease.

How Come Air Pollution Causes Type 2?

Epidemiological studies show that the irritants trigger a systemic inflammation reaction in the body.

Consequently, the immune system and autonomic nervous system in the body go haywire to counteract the inflammation.

As a result, a false sense of flight or fight immune response occurs, increasing the production of cortisol and bigger size, and reducing the metabolism of glucose.

These factors are all triggering insulin insensitivity, gradually leading to type 2. Besides the constant pollutant exposure, the continuous stress on the system might cause permanent pancreas and liver damage. This, in turn, can eventually trigger the onset of type 2.

Air Pollution and Type 1

When the immune system starts destroying the pancreatic cells responsible for producing insulin, it leads to the development of type 1. As we see, it’s quite different from type 2. This type needs a genetic predisposition and a weak immune system to start the process.

New studies show that continuous exposure to poisonous matters can trigger type 1 in people with a genetic predisposition.

Children with a family history of autoimmune disease, drug abuse, and high blood sugar levels have the highest risk of developing the disease when being constantly exposed to sulfate and ambient ozone pollution.

Moreover, German researchers link the onset of type 1 to second-hand smoking. It seems air pollution attacks our health by disturbing our immune system, thus speeding up the onset of the disease.

Air Pollution and Gestational Diabetes

This type occurs in 14 percent of pregnant women in the U.S.

Even though the exact risk factors are still unknown, researchers believe exposure to sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide during the first few weeks of pregnancy or preconception can significantly raise the risk of developing gestational diabetes.

Furthermore, ozone exposure in the later stages of pregnancy might raise the risk of developing gestational and type 2 later in life.

How Does Air Pollution Affect Babies?

Babies whose mothers live in heavily polluted areas have a higher risk of many problems. They include early birth, low birth weight, jaundice, birth defects, bipolar disorder, ADHA, autism, and other learning and behavioral problems.

What’s more, they have higher chances of developing type 2 if their mother develops gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Studies show that second-hand smoke can significantly speed the onset of type 1 in infants and babies with a predisposition to the disease.

According to clinical health reports, insulin-producing pancreatic cells are 13% less efficient in children living in highly polluted areas.

Overall, poor air quality can cause many health problems in children with a genetic predisposition to diabetes.


  • Gabriela

    Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Diabetes Health Page, Fitness trainer and instructor has dedicated her career to educating and informing people for over 10 years. As one of the most passionate diabetes advocates, Gabi has worked tirelessly to ensure that those people receive the education and support they need to properly manage their diabetes and achieve their health, fitness and weight loss goals.

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