Researchers from DMU find link between global warming and diabetes

Rising global temperatures could be impacting the health of people with type 2 diabetes, new research from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) suggests.

Dr Abdullah Alghamdi, under the supervision of Professor Parvez Haris, analysed nearly 170,000 medical records from patients with the condition over six years in a hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


Dr Alghamdi found that for every 1oC it rise in temperature, the average blood sugar level in patients rose by 0.007%.

Increases in blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes can lead to hyperglycaemia, a condition which can cause severe dehydration or, over time, can result in permanent damage to parts of the body such as the eyes, nerves, kidneys and blood vessels.

In a paper detailing his findings, Dr Alghamdi said that the possible reasons for the rise in blood sugar levels in the patients he observed include the reduced physical activity, reduced sunlight exposure, and dehydration during hot weather.

Professor Haris, who supervised Dr Alghamdi, said: “The study findings makes sense since existing research has shown that people with diabetes are at greater risk of dehydration during high temperature and this leads to worsening of their blood sugar control.

“However, it is important to carry out further research by including individual level data and considering other possible factors such as duration of disease, use of medication, occupation and so on.”

This week, as world leaders met in Glasgow to discuss climate policy at COP 26, the Met Office released new figures which suggest that the numbers of people in regions across the world affected by extreme heat stress – a potentially fatal combination of heat and humidity – could increase from 68 million today to around one billion if the world’s temperature rise reaches 2°C.

DIABETES - Abdullah

Dr Abdullah Alghamdi, who now works in the Security Forces Hospital Program Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Meanwhile, a report published by the World Health Organisation earlier this month highlighted the health risks associated with climate change. The report suggested that only one-third of surveyed countries have climate-informed health early warning systems for heat-related illness (33%) or injury and mortality from extreme weather events (30%) despite strong evidence that these risks are increasing around the world.

Professor Haris said: “As the world awaits the outcome of COP26 in Glasgow, we must not forget that the health of the entire planet and especially people with underlying conditions are going to be more vulnerable if the global temperature is allowed to rise unabated.

“The COVID-19 pandemic should have taught us a lesson that there are consequences associated with how we deal with our environment and how we take care of our vulnerable. The elderly, those with underlying conditions and front-line workers were disproportionately affected by the deadly virus.

“Similarly, the global rise in temperature is likely to have a greater toll on the vulnerable groups and widen health inequalities even further. ”

Posted on Thursday 11th November 2021

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