Diabetes leads to 1.5 million deaths annually, therefore a lot of research has gone into how to prevent diabetes. Luckily, there are some diabetes prevention steps that can be taken to dramatically reduce one’s odds of getting the deadly disease. Although diet and exercise are important, a leading cause of diabetes is not nearly discussed enough: air pollution.
In this article, we discuss how even small increases in air pollution can result in a significant increase in diabetes risk. We also share what you can do to breathe more clean air and significantly reduce your diabetes risk.
Study: 10 Microgram Increase in PM2.5 Leads to 39% Increase in Diabetes Risk
In the last decade, there has been a lot of research showing the strong link between air pollution and diabetes. What’s surprising is even areas with relatively good air pollution can have enough pollution to significantly increase your risk. In fact, slight increases in air pollution at lower levels actually raise your risk of diabetes the most. We explain this fascinating concept in our article “Why Low Levels of Air Pollution Cause the Most Harm”.
A study was done in Denmark to measure PM2.5’s effect on diabetes risk. And even with pollution levels relatively lower in most areas of the world, diabetes levels were significantly elevated for those living in slightly more polluted areas. Overall, the study concluded a 10-micron increase in PM2.5 led to a 39% increase in diabetes risk.
Note that an average of 12.4 micrograms of PM2.5 would be considered “low” in many areas of the world. For example, India’s capital Delhi averaged 100 micrograms of PM2.5 in 2021. In the US, average PM2.5 levels hover around 7.66 micrograms, but depend on the area. In most areas of the US, which can seem to have relatively good air quality, levels are still high enough to signifcantly increase your diabetes risk.
Another study had similar findings, showing an increase in air pollution above 2.4 micrograms resulted in a “substantial increase” in diabetes risk. So ideally, one can lower their risk of diabetes the most by living in an environment with 2.4 micrograms of PM2.5 or less. Unfortunately, only 1 major city in the world ranked with PM2.5 lower than this limit.
Read More: The 25 Least Polluted Cities in the World
So…what should you do?
How to Prevent Diabetes With the Help of Clean Air
There are many risk factors related to diabetes, and of course there is no one answer tot he question “how to prevent diabetes”. But research shows breathing clean air is one of the largest risk factors.
Although living in an area with PM2.5 lower than 2.4 micrograms is not doable for most, there are some tools you can use to get close to this number. Specifically, masks and HEPA air purifiers can significantly reduce the air pollution you breathe, thus lowering your diabetes risk.
Outdoors: N95 Mask or Portable Air Purifier
An N95 or KN95 mask reduces the PM2.5 air pollution you breathe by over 95%. According to research 95% reduction can reduce your Diabetes risk dramatically. A mask can be an option when air pollution levels are elevated but you still need to go outside. Check AQICN for live PM2.5 readings in your city.
A portable HEPA air purifier can be another great option to lower your PM2.5 intake on the go. HEPA air purifiers can remove over 99% of PM2.5 air pollution. And of course, an added benefit of a portable air purifier is you do not need to cover your face!
HEPA Air Purifier
The solution to breathe less than 2.4 micrograms of PM2.5 indoors is simple: run HEPA air purifiers. With suitable air purifiers, indoor air can stay at close to 0 micrograms in PM2.5, basically completely removing the increased risk of diabetes from PM2.5.
How to Find an Air Purifier?
But how should you go about finding an air purifier that fits your home? There are a lot of air purifiers that are dangerous or not a good bargain. Our air purifier guide helps you find the best air purifier for your home.
Read More: How to Choose an Air Purifier
Clean Air Can Help Lower Diabetes Risk Drastically
Research shows a strong correlation between PM2.5 levels and increased diabetes risk. Lowering your PM2.5 intake through the use of air purifiers and masks can reduce your odds of getting diabetes drastically.
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