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Diabetes is a serious, life changing condition that results in the level of sugar in your blood becoming too high. Depending on the type you have, the cause can vary. However, a new study has concluded that being exposed to outdoor artificial light at night, which includes street lights and urban light pollution, increases your risk.
The paper, published in Diabetologia journal, considered the impact of outdoor artificial light at night (LAN) on blood glucose levels.
Researchers used data from the China Noncommunicable Disease Surveillance Study – a sample of the general population in 2010 from across 162 different areas.
This included 98,658 adults – with an average age of 43 years – who took part in interviews to collect relevant demographic information.
Their body mass index was also calculated and blood samples were taken to establish blood sugar levels both before and after eating.
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They were then assigned an average outdoor LAN exposure level by way of image data of the Earth from the US Defense Meteorological Satellite Program – which were categorised in five groups from most exposure to least.
This showed that the group with the highest exposure was linked to a relative increase in diabetes prevalence of 28 percent, compared to the lowest.
High levels of outdoor LAN were also positively associated with blood glucose levels, insulin resistance and diabetes prevalence, and inversely associated with beta cell function – cells that respond to blood sugar spikes.
The study explains: “Outdoor LAN exposure levels were positively associated with HbA1c (the amount of blood sugar attached to your haemoglobin), fasting and two hour glucose concentrations and HOMA-IR (an approximation for insulin resistance) and negatively associated with HOMA-B (an approximation of beta-cell function).t
“Diabetes prevalence was significantly associated with per-quintile LAN exposure.
“The highest quintile of LAN exposure was significantly associated with an increased prevalence of diabetes compared with the lowest quintile of exposure.”
Overall, the team believe more than nine million cases of diabetes in Chinese adults aged 18 and over could be linked to outdoor LAN exposure.
And this is a figure that is likely to rise due to growing numbers of people migrating from China’s countryside to its cities.
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Worldwide this is even more of an issue as it is estimated 83 percent of the global population and almost 100 percent of those in the US and Europe live under light-polluted skies.
The research concludes: “There were significant associations between chronic exposure to higher intensity of outdoor LAN with increased risk of impaired glucose homoeostasis (the balance of insulin and glucagon to maintain blood glucose) and diabetes prevalence.
“Our findings contribute to the growing evidence that LAN is detrimental to health and point to outdoor LAN as a potential novel risk factor for diabetes.”
According to Diabetes.co.uk, “normal” blood sugar levels are between 4.0 to 5.4 millimoles per litre (mmol/L) when fasting, and up to 7.8 mmol/L two hours after eating.
But for those with diabetes, blood sugar level targets are four to seven mmol/L before eating.
And blood sugar levels should be under nine mmol/L for people with type 1 diabetes, and under 8.5 mmol/L for people with type 2 diabetes after eating.
Symptoms of diabetes can include:
You are also more at risk of type 2 diabetes if you:
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