A study from Maastricht Univesity Medical Centre discovered that global warming could be associated with type 2 diabetes. The study, published in the journal BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care, offers an interesting explanation for this growing issue.
Researchers concluded that a 1-degree Celsius rise in the average temperature would represent more than 100,000 new type 2 diabetes cases in the U.S. When trying to find the key to explaining the relation between both variables scientist thought about brown fat. The focus of this study was the brown adipose tissue (BAT), responsible for turning food into body heat.
In 2015, a study found that cold temperatures could improve metabolism, causing weight loss and making people more sensitive to insulin, the opposite of diabetes consequences. In that opportunity, they exposed patients to a cold environment for ten days, and then they saw the results.
According to the researchers, when the body is colder, it burns calories to stay warm, so increasing the temperature means that the body would not naturally burn calories, affecting the sensitivity to insulin.
For this study, they took the type 2 diabetes cases between 1996 and 2009 in the U.S. The data was obtained from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. They also analyzed the information of the World Health Organization system, in addition to the annual temperature rates.
The influence of global warming on blood glucose levels
Ashley Grossman, a professor at Oxford University, said that there is no evidence showing that cooling the body would reduce diabetes, but living in a cold environment could increase insulin sensitivity, reducing the diabetes risk.
Grossman recommends sleeping in a cold bedroom with the windows open, so the body will burn calories by itself, helping to increase insulin sensitivity. She was leading a recent study about this topic and concluded that a better sleep time could increase BAT production.
Dr. Blauw considers that lowering the temperature to 15 C for a few hours could help avoiding the risk of diabetes and weight gain, another cause of type 2 diabetes.
Dr. Louise Brown from University College London said that she doesn’t think this new study would help in the fight against diabetes because, in her opinion, this results might suggest that people should move to colder climates, which is not likely to happen.
“If they have stumbled across a useful pointer that leads to appropriate metabolic research on the role of brown fat in the development of diabetes then great, but their claims are too strong at this stage,” said Dr. Brown according to Diabetes.co.uk.
Researchers said that more studies on this topic are needed, to determine the reasons of this relation between temperature and type 2 diabetes more accurately. According to a statement from the authors, this is the first study to assess the association of outdoor temperatures with diabetes incidence and the prevalence of high blood sugar on a national and global level.
“This emphasizes the importance of future research into the effects of environmental temperature on glucose metabolism and the onset of diabetes, especially in view of the global rise in temperatures,” said Lisanne L. Blauw, a Ph.D. student of Leiden University Medical Center, according to Diabetes.co.uk.
Source: Los Angeles Times