New research published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism suggests urban lifestyles could increase the risk of diabetes and other metabolic disorders. One possible risk factor for diabetes is stress, or more specifically exposure to the stress hormone cortisol.
"Our findings indicate that people who leave a rural lifestyle for an urban environment are exposed to high levels of stress and tend to have higher levels of the hormone cortisol," Dr. Peter Herbert Kann of Philipp's University in Marburg, Germany, one of the study's authors, said in a release. "This stress is likely contributing to the rising rates of diabetes we see in developing nations."
In the Middle East and North Africa, 1 in 10 adults has diabetes, according to the Endocrine Society. Seventy-seven percent of people with diabetes worldwide live in low- and middle-income countries. As these areas experience rapid urbanization and population shifts, their residents may be at higher risk for diabetes, according to the new study. As an example, researchers looked at people living in Namibia, and found urban residents of the country had higher levels of cortisol and a greater incidence of diabetes and other metabolic disorders. The study also found people living in urban Namibia exercised less and ate more fast food.