Although air pollution has been suggested as a possible risk factor for type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM), results from existing epidemiologic studies have been inconsistent. We investigated the associations of prevalence and incidence of DM with long-term exposure to air pollution as estimated using annual average concentrations of particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter of 2.5 μm or less (PM₂.₅) and nitrogen oxides at baseline (2000) in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. All participants were aged 45-84 years at baseline and were recruited from 6 US sites. There were 5,839 participants included in the study of prevalent DM and 5,135 participants without DM at baseline in whom we studied incident DM. After adjustment for potential confounders, we found significant associations of prevalent DM with PM₂.₅ (odds ratio (OR) = 1.09, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.00, 1.17) and nitrogen oxides (OR = 1.18, 95% CI: 1.01, 1.38) per each interquartile-range increase (2.43 µg/m(3) and 47.1 ppb, respectively). Larger but nonsignificant associations were observed after further adjustment for study site (for PM₂.₅, OR = 1.16, 95% CI: 0.94, 1.42; for nitrogen oxides, OR = 1.29, 95% CI: 0.94, 1.76). No air pollution measures were significantly associated with incident DM over the course of the 9-year follow-up period. Results were partly consistent with a link between long-term exposure to air pollution and the risk of type 2 DM. Additional studies with a longer follow-up time and a greater range of air pollution exposures, including high levels, are warranted to evaluate the hypothesized association.
Keywords: air pollution; diabetes; nitrogen oxides; particulate matter; prospective cohort study.
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