Exposure to polluted air may increase the risk of obesity and lead to high cholesterol and more insulin resistance, a precursor of Type 2 diabetes, a new study has warned.

Researchers from Duke University in US found that laboratory rats who breathed Beijing’s highly polluted air gained weight and experienced cardio-respiratory and metabolic dysfunctions.

The pollution-breathing pregnant rats had heavier lungs and livers and increased tissue inflammation, researchers said.

For the study, they placed pregnant rats and their offspring in two chambers, one exposed to outdoor Beijing air and the other containing an air filter that removed most of the air pollution particles.

After only 19 days, the lungs and livers of pregnant rats exposed to the polluted air were heavier and showed increased tissue inflammation.

These rats had 50 per cent higher Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol; 46 per cent higher triglycerides; and 97 per cent higher total cholesterol.

The findings were published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.


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