Study Links Poor Housing Conditions to Blacks’ Increased Risk for Diabetes
Blacks who live in housing conditions that are considered substandard have an increased risk of developing diabetes, according to a study in the August issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology, Asian News International/Yahoo! News reports.
Researchers, including Mario Schootman of the Washington University School of Medicine, used previously collected data on 998 St. Louis blacks born between 1936 and 1950. They looked at risk factors that likely contribute to health problems, including weight, exercise, alcohol and tobacco use, marital status and education. Researchers gathered data on individual health status, medical care access and characteristics of participants' neighborhoods. They rated neighborhoods as fair, poor, good or excellent based on noise; air quality; the conditions of houses, streets, yards and sidewalks; and other physical characteristics, such as broken windows, bad siding on homes, and proximity to industrial sites or traffic noise.
Researchers found that housing conditions rated as fair or poor were associated with an increased risk of diabetes for residents. After adjusting for all other factors, housing conditions still contributed to increased diabetes risk, according to the study. While there was no direct association between neighborhood conditions and diabetes risk, substandard housing more than doubled diabetes risk, the study found.
Schootman said, "So far, we can't explain why that is. It could potentially be related to lead. Lead is associated with the development of diabetes, and we know that in some poorer housing conditions, there's likely to be lead exposure. But it also could be related to other, unknown environmental contaminants." Increased stress from the living conditions could also play a role, as there are "known links between stress and diabetes," Asian News International/Yahoo! News reports (Asian News International/Yahoo! News, 8/14).
An abstract of the study is available online.