Diagnostics Industry / Disease States / Health

Higher levels of obesity hormone leptin linked to long term air pollution exposure

Higher levels of obesity hormone leptin linked to long term air pollution exposureInner city living can be a convenience many people thrive upon; being close to shops, place of work, bars and restaurants brings with it a certain lifestyle that people love. However, new research published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (1) suggests that urban living brings with it some more undesirable lifestyle consequences. Study authors have identified an association between higher levels of black carbon (the fine particles that are created from traffic), to increased levels of leptin, a hormone connected with obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Researchers analysed a cohort of older adults and estimated the association between serum leptin concentrations and two markers of long-term exposure to traffic pollution, adjusting for participant characteristics, temporal trends, socioeconomic factors, and medical history.

Results identified an interquartile range increase (0.11 μg/m3) in annual mean residential black carbon was associated with 12% (95% confidence interval: 3%, 22%) higher leptin level. Study authors did however note that there was no association between the distance between a participant’s home and a major road and, concluded that the exposure to black carbon was due to the result of numerous roads in the area rather than one large one.

Researchers also noted that participants with the greatest exposure to black carbon were found in those on lower incomes and with higher rates of blood pressure and diabetes.  These people were also less likely to be white. Although, even after taking these differences into account, investigators still found that leptin levels were 27% higher for older people with the greatest exposure to black carbon.

Although the research doesn’t establish a cause-and-effect relationship between black carbon exposure and leptin levels, investigators noted that if their findings were confirmed, they support the emerging evidence suggesting that certain sources of traffic pollution may be associated with adverse cardio-metabolic effects, including diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.


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