Is Climate Change Driving the Rise in Diabetes?
The number of dire impacts that a warming planet could have on human beings -- from food shortages to deadlier, more severe weather events -- might have just increased by one: namely, a rise in the incidence of type 2 diabetes.
According to a study published in the journal BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care, researchers at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands have calculated that a 1-degree °C rise in environmental temperature (about 2 degrees °F) around the world could translate to more than 100,000 new diabetes cases a year in the United States alone. Researchers studied data on rates of type 2 diabetes in the U.S. between 1996 and 2009, and found that in the same time period there was a roughly 4 percent increase in diabetes for every 1-degree °C increase in the global temperature.
As striking as the data appear, researchers stress that the study indicates an association, not necessarily causation, between rates of diabetes and climate change. For example, CNN quoted Dr. Adrian Vella, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic, who responded to the Dutch study, saying that he felt "calorie consumption and weight are probably the biggest [factor in rising diabetes incidence] by a country mile."
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