Health & wellness


Vehicle emissions linked to diabetes in black women

Previous studies have linked long-term exposure to air pollution to cardiovascular problems. A new study by researchers in Boston and California found that air pollution may also increase diabetes risk.

The study, led by Patricia Coogan of the Boston University School of Public Health and the Slone Epidemiology Center, used data from a large study of African-American women living in Los Angeles.

The researchers tracked the health of 4,204 women over about 10 years, during which 183 women were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. They used land modeling and data from local air monitoring stations to estimate the women’s exposure to nitrous oxides, a pollutant often associated with traffic.


After adjusting for differences in age, weight, income, and other socioeconomic and health factors, the researchers found that for every increase in exposure to nitrous oxide of about 12 parts per billion, the risk of diabetes increased 24 percent. Coogan said the researchers have a federal grant to apply similar modeling to a larger study of about 59,000 African-American women in 27 states.

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BOTTOM LINE: Exposure to traffic-related air pollution increased African-American women’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

CAUTIONS: The study did not fully account for undiagnosed diabetes among the women, and doesn’t prove pollution causes diabetes. Also, exposure to nitrous oxide was assessed in 2006 and used to calculate exposure over time.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Circulation, online Jan. 4

Heart attacks and strokes fell after weight-loss surgery

Obese adults who have bariatric surgery may reduce their risk of death from a heart attack or stroke by as much as half, a group of researchers in Sweden found.


Previous studies of obese people who lost weight with medication or by changing eating and exercise habits, showed no change in cardiovascular risk or, in some cases, an increase.

This study followed more than 4,000 obese people ages 37 to 60, about half of whom had various types of weight-loss surgery, for an average of about 15 years.

Of the 2,010 people who had surgery, 28 died from cardiovascular events, compared with 49 deaths among the 2,037 who did not have surgery. The surgery reduced the risk for first-time heart attacks and stroke, including those that were not fatal, by about 33 percent.

BOTTOM LINE: Bariatric surgery in adults who are obese may reduce risk of heart attack and stroke.

CAUTIONS: The study was not randomized. Participants chose for themselves whether to have surgery. Bariatric surgery comes with significant risk, and is appropriate only for patients who have weight-related health complications, Dr. Edward H. Livingston of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center said in an accompanying editorial.


WHERE TO FIND IT: Journal of the American Medical Association, Jan. 4