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In addition to our genetic predisposition, a new study claims that our environments can also contribute to health ailments. A study conducted by Boston University’s School of Public Health found that air pollution can increase the occurrence of high blood pressure and diabetes in African American women.

The study monitored 4,000 black women living in Los Angeles, California from 1995-2005. Some of these women were naturally exposed to nitrogen oxides and particulate matter. This type of pollution can occur when fuels like oil, coal and gas are burned. It’s also produced by manufacturing plants. As you might assume, this is more prevalent in larger cities with significant industry and car traffic.

Air pollution has already been known to increase the risk of heart attack and stroke; but throughout the duration of this new study, 531 women reported cases of high blood pressure and 184 cases of diabetes.

In a Boston Medical Center news release Patricia Coogan, an associate professor at the School of Public Health, said “A link between air pollution and the risks of diabetes and hypertension is of particular importance to African American women, because the incidence of both conditions is almost twice as high in African American women as in white women.”  She also mentioned that African Americans tend to live in more highly polluted areas than white Americans.

The study was published in the scientific journal Circulation on January 4.

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