University of Leicester scientists investigate link between air pollution and type 2 diabetes

Posted by ap507 at Jun 29, 2017 09:25 AM |
Researchers from University of Leicester and EarthSense examine associations of air pollution in Leicestershire

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office

An interdisciplinary team of scientists from the Universities of Leicester and other institutions has played a pivotal role in research investigating a possible link between air pollution and the rise in type 2 diabetes.

New research, published in the journal Environment International, examined data from 10,443 participants from diabetes screening studies in Leicestershire, UK.

The exposure to air pollution, the number of cases of type 2 diabetes and the impact of demographic and lifestyle factors were all considered.

The authors concluded that demographic factors largely explained the association between air pollution and type 2 diabetes.

The research team, supported by the NIHR, is comprised of University of Leicester experts from a wide variety of fields, including Earth Observation Science, the University’s Diabetes Research Centre and the Department of Health Sciences and builds upon world-leading research in these areas.

Dr Gary O'Donovan, of Loughborough University, who led the research, said: “High air pollution and low physical activity are two of the leading causes of disease and premature death in middle and high-income countries.

“Like most cities in the UK, Leicester has only a handful of air quality monitors. The UN has estimated that two thirds of world’s population will be living in cities by 2050 and our cities must become better, healthier places in which to live.

“Cities like Copenhagen in Denmark and Medellín in Colombia are doing a much better job of measuring air pollution and facilitating active transport than most cities in the UK.”

Exposure to traffic related air pollutants is known to cause insulin resistance, a hallmark of the disease, and observational evidence has been applied to better understand a potential link.

Professor Roland Leigh, Technical Director of EarthSense and Director of Enterprise at the University of Leicester’s Institute for Space and Earth Observation, and co-author of the study, said: “We know that air pollution is the world’s largest environmental health risk affecting 92% of the population and associated with more than three million deaths per year, and evidence suggested it may contribute to the rise in type 2 diabetes.

“While original results suggested association between air pollution and associated particulates and type 2 diabetes, when the effects of lifestyle and demographic factors were considered, and given the limited size of the sample, evidence for direct association with air pollution was inconclusive.

“We will, however, continue to apply cutting-edge air quality research to unpick potentially connected long-term exposure factors,” continued Professor Leigh. “As innovators in air quality monitoring, the University of Leicester and EarthSense has a fundamental contribution to make in the understanding of the complex issues of pollution exposure and health.”

Diabetes is one of the leading causes of death in lower middle, upper middle and high income economies. The global prevalence of diabetes has nearly doubled, from 4.7% in 1980 to 8.5% in 2014, with the majority of cases being type 2. Experimental evidence exists to suggest exposure to nitrogen dioxide and associated particulate matter is related to inflammation and insulin resistance.

The CHAMPIONS Study into the association between air pollution and type 2 diabetes was conducted by representatives from the University of Leicester Diabetes Research Centre, University of Leicester Earth Observation Science Group, University of East Anglia Norwich Medical School and University of Leicester Department of Health Sciences.

EarthSense Systems is a joint venture between aerial mapping company Bluesky and the University of Leicester.

The paper, ‘The association between air pollution and type 2 diabetes in a large cross-sectional study in Leicester: The CHAMPIONS Study’, published in the journal Environment International, is available here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412016309473

ENDS

Notes to editors:

For more information contact Professor Roland Leigh on rl40@leicester.ac.uk or call 0116 229 7711 or Professor Alan Wells on aaw@le.ac.uk

Additional contacts

Reader enquiries to EarthSense on tel +44 (0)1530 518555 or info@earthsense.co.uk

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www.earthsense.co.uk

EarthSense Systems aims to deliver products that enable the world to visualise and solve its air quality issues. A joint venture between aerial mapping company Bluesky and the University of Leicester, EarthSense enables policy makers, planners and those responsible for delivering results to access real world information in order to support decision making. With a mix of hardware (air quality sensors), software (bespoke modelling), data (derived and complementary) and people, EarthSense is uniquely poised to take a lead in air quality monitoring solutions and services, making a difference to people’s lives and delivering high value information to a range of consumers and decision makers.

EarthSense has already undertaken a range of air quality monitoring projects, including trials of an airborne air quality mapper, air pollution monitoring equipment on a rocket, and mobile mapping with air quality sensors mounted in electric cars. Future plans include the establishment of a nationwide network of air quality monitoring sensors, feeding live data for up to the minute air quality predictions.

www.earthsense.co.uk

The University of Leicester is a leading UK University committed to international excellence through the creation of world changing research and high quality inspirational teaching. Leicester is among the most socially inclusive of Britain's top 20 leading universities. The University of Leicester is The Times/Sunday Times 2014 University of the Year Runner-Up and the THE University of the Year 2008-9.  Leicester is a three-time winner of the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education, and is the only University to win seven consecutive awards from the Times Higher Education (THE) magazine. Leicester is ranked 14th out of 121 institutions by The Times/Sunday Times and the University is ranked among the top two percent in the world by the QS World University Rankings, Taiwan World University Rankings and THE World University Rankings. https://le.ac.uk/about-us/facts-and-figures

Bluesky is a specialist in aerial survey including aerial photography, LiDAR and thermal data using the very latest survey technology, including two UltraCam Eagles and a Teledyne Optech Galaxy LiDAR system integrated with a PhaseOne camera and thermal sensor. An internationally recognised leader with projects extending around the globe, Bluesky is proud to work with prestigious organisations such as Google, the BBC and Government Agencies. 

Bluesky has unrivalled expertise in the creation of seamless, digital aerial photography and maintains national “off the shelf” coverage of aerial photography, DTM and DSM through an on-going three-year update programme. The integrated Galaxy LiDAR system, which includes thermal and aerial photography cameras, places Bluesky at the forefront of this technology and in the enviable position of being able to provide customers with unique and extremely cost effective solutions.

Bluesky is leading the way in developing innovative solutions for environmental applications, including the UK’s first National Tree Map™ (NTM), solar mapping and citywide ‘heat loss’ maps and is currently developing noise and air quality mapping products. www.bluesky-world.com

The NIHR

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR): improving the health and wealth of the nation through research.

Established by the Department of Health, the NIHR:

·     funds high quality research to improve health

·     trains and supports health researchers

·     provides world-class research facilities

·     works with the life sciences industry and charities to benefit all

·     involves patients and the public at every step

For further information, visit the NIHR website www.nihr.ac.uk

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