Effect of Long-Term Exposure to Air Pollution on Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Risk: A Systemic Review and Meta-Analysis of Cohort Studies

Eur J Endocrinol. 2014 Nov;171(5):R173-82. doi: 10.1530/EJE-14-0365.


Objective: To assess the effect of long-term exposure to air pollution on type 2 diabetes risk, a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies was performed.

Methods: Literature search was conducted with Pubmed, Embase, and Web of Science for prospective cohort studies investigating the association of type 2 diabetes risk with increments in particulate matter (PM, diameter<2.5 μm (PM2.5) or <10 μm (PM10)) or nitrogen dioxide (NO2). We used a random-effects model to calculate the overall relative risk (RR) with 95% CI.

Results: Of 808 identified articles, ten cohort studies were finally included, which involved a total of 2 37,1 907 participants and 21,095 incident cases of type 2 diabetes. Elevated risk of type 2 diabetes was significantly associated with long-term exposures to high levels of PM2.5 (RR=1.28, 95% CI 1.06-1.55, P=0.009, I2=83.5%), PM10 (RR=1.15, 95% CI 1.02-1.30, P=0.022, I2=0%), and NO2 (RR=1.12, 95% CI 1.02-1.23, P=0.015, I2=63.5%). When using standardized risk estimates, the RRs of type 2 diabetes were significant for increments in concentrations of PM2.5 (1.39 per 10 μg/m3 increment, 95% CI 1.14-1.68, P=0.001), PM10 (1.34 per 10 μg/m3 increment, 95% CI 1.22-1.47, P<0.001), and NO2 (1.11 per 10 μg/m3 increment, 95% CI 1.07-1.16, P<0.001). No obvious evidence of publication bias was observed.

Conclusion: Long-term exposure to high levels of main air pollutants is significantly associated with elevated risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology*
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Particulate Matter / toxicity
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors


  • Particulate Matter