Climate change may be upping your risk of diabetes


GLOBAL warming, already linked to countless human health problems, may be increasing the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes, including 100,000 or more new annual cases in the United States alone, according to a new study published in the journal BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care.
The worrisome finding comes at a time when the world is living through the hottest years on record, and the incidence of diabetes has reached epidemic levels. Worldwide, the number of people with diabetes has roughl quadrupled since 1980.
More than 29 million Americans have diabetes, and another 86 million have pre-diabetes, put-ting them at risk for developing the disease. People with diabetes either don’t make enough insulin (Type 1) or can’t use insulin properly (Type 2), resulting in a buildup of blood sugar. High blood sugar can lead to heart disease, stroke, blind-ness, kidney failure, and amputation of toes, feet, or legs. To be sure, heat exacerbates many chronic health conditions, including diabetes. “Hot weather can be more difficult for people with diabetes,” says Mona Sarfaty, director of the Consortium on Climate Change and Health, who was not involved in the study.
“The heat keeps people from being active, which means they expend less calories, which can lead to more weight gain,” a major risk factor for developing Type 2 diabetes, she said. “Also, people with diabetes of-ten have kidney problems. The development of Type 2 diabetes has long been linked to the growing problem of obesity, since the accumulation of fat makes body tissues less responsive to insulin.
But the study names another potentially important mechanism in the onset of diabetes: the harmful impact that higher ambient temperatures can have on metabolism. Higher temperatures reduce the activity of brown fat or “good fat,” which turns food into body heat.
“Obesity only partially explains the association between out-door temperature and diabetes,” says Patrick Rensen, professor of endocrinology at Lei-den University Medical Center in the Netherlands and a co-author of the paper. “We showed that more people get diabetes when the outdoor temperature is higher, but this is not because these people get more obese when it is warmer outside.”

Share this post

    scroll to top