Howler: Air pollution causes diabetes in poor African-American women

Poverty, not “pollution,” is unhealthy.

From a Boston University Medical Center media release:

The incidence of type 2 diabetes and hypertension increases with cumulative levels of exposure to nitrogen oxides, according to a new study led by researchers from the Slone Epidemiology Center (SEC) at Boston University. The study, which appears online in the journal Circulation, was led by Patricia Coogan, D.Sc., associate professor of epidemiology at the Boston University School of Public Health and the SEC.

While it is well established that air pollution increases the risks of acute cardiovascular events such as stroke and myocardial infarction, it is not known whether exposure increases the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension. However, emerging findings from laboratory and clinical studies suggest that air pollution may predispose to both conditions.

Researchers assessed the risks of incident hypertension and diabetes associated with exposure to nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM2.5) in a cohort of approximately 4,000 African American women living in Los Angeles. NOx are indicators of traffic-related air pollution. From 1995-2005, 531 incident cases of hypertension and 183 incident cases of diabetes occurred among the participants in the Los Angeles area. The risk of diabetes increased by a significant 24 percent, and the risk of hypertension by 11 percent, for each 12 ppb increase in exposure to NOx. There also were suggestive increases in risks of both diseases associated with exposure to (PM2.5), but the evidence for this was weaker than for NOx.

According to the researchers, two previous follow-up studies have suggested that traffic-related pollution increased the incidence of diabetes, but no African Americans were included. “A link between air pollution and the risks of diabetes and hypertension is of particular importance to African American women, because the incidence of both conditions is almost twice as high in African American women as in white women and African Americans live in more highly polluted areas than white Americans,” said Patricia Coogan, D.Sc., the study’s lead author. “In addition, even a modest effect of air pollutants on the risks of hypertension and diabetes will have significant public health impact due to the high incidence of these conditions and the ubiquity of exposure to air pollution,” she added.

We say: No exposure data + No medical examination of the women + No biological plausibility + Laughably weak statistics = Junk science.

If there is any sort of effect going on in this study cohort, it is most likely socioeconomic in nature — i.e., poverty is unhealthy.

Below is the abstract.

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Air Pollution and Incidence of Hypertension and Diabetes in African American Women Living in Los Angeles
Patricia F. Coogan1*; Laura F. White2; Michael Jerrett3; Robert D. Brook4; Jason G. Su3; Edmund Seto3; Richard Burnett5; Julie R. Palmer1; Lynn Rosenberg1
+ Author Affiliations

1 Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University, Boston, MA;
2 Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA;
3 University of California, Berkeley, CA;
4 University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI;
5 Healthy Environments & Consumer Safety Branch, Health Canada, Ottawa, Canada
↵* Corresponding author; email: pcoogan@bu.edu
Abstract

Background—Evidence suggests that longer-term exposure to air pollutants over years confers higher risks of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality than shorter term exposure. One explanation is that cumulative adverse effects that develop over longer durations lead to the genesis of chronic disease. Preliminary epidemiological and clinical evidence suggest that air pollution may contribute to the development hypertension and type 2 diabetes.

Methods and Results—We used Cox proportional hazards models to assess incidence rate ratios (IRRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for incident hypertension and diabetes associated with exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) in a cohort of African American women living in Los Angeles. Pollutant levels were estimated at participant residential addresses with land use regression models (NOx) and interpolation from monitoring station measurements (PM2.5). Over follow-up from 1995-2005, 531 incident cases of hypertension and 183 incident cases of diabetes occurred. When pollutants were analyzed separately, the IRR for hypertension for a 10 μg/m3 increase in PM2.5 was 1.48 (95% CI 0.95-2.31) and the IRR for the interquartile range (12.4 parts per billion) of NOx was 1.14 (95% CI 1.03-1.25). The corresponding IRRs for diabetes were 1.63 (95% CI 0.78-3.44) and 1.25 (95% CI 1.07-1.46). When both pollutants were included in the same model, the IRRs for PM2.5 were attenuated and the IRRs for NOx were essentially unchanged for both outcomes.

Conclusions—Our results suggest that exposure to air pollutants, especially traffic-related pollutants, may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and possibly of

3 thoughts on “Howler: Air pollution causes diabetes in poor African-American women”

  1. sciece used to be pursued for the sake of knowledge.
    Now it is pursued for the sake of social justice

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