What might earlier have been an assumption or a hypothesis is now a fact. The stress of moving from a rural setting to an urban one in developing countries puts people at the risk of diabetes and other metabolic disorders. According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM), the stress brought on by the shift to urban areas in search of better life opportunities could cause irreparable damage to your health.
One of the study authors, Peter Herbert Kann from Philipps University in Marburg, Germany said, "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." He added, "This stress is likely contributing to the rising rates of diabetes we see in developing nations."
Our body releases cortisol, also known as the stress hormone to cope with stress. It also helps decide whether to fight or to take flight. Chronic exposure to cortisol can raise a person's risk of developing diabetes and other metabolic problems. When you're stressed your glands release cortisol that shoots up your blood sugar which in turn fuels the brain and helps the body repair or cope more easily. It also suppresses regular bodily functions like growth, and processes in the digestive system. (Too Much Stress May Lead to Memory Loss)
To test the theory, researchers examined the Ovahimba people (an ethnic group from Africa) living in both the rural and urban areas of Namibia. These people traditionally lived a semi-nomadic lifestyle and were later isolated from the rest of the country for military reasons. Very recently they started migrating back to cities. Researchers measured the cortisol, blood sugar and cholesterol levels of 60 Ovahimba people living in an urban area and compared it with the measurements of 63 Ovahimba people who lived in the nearest rural areas.
Among the urban residents, 28 percent of the people had diabetes or other glucose metabolism disorders, while only 13 percent of those living in the rural areas had the same condition. The urban dwellers also had significantly higher cortisol levels than their rural counterparts. It was also noted that rural residents engaged in more physical activity than those living in urban areas.
Researchers also found that people living in urban areas ate more fast food and desserts than those living in rural areas. But diet and exercise aren't the only reasons for the higher diabetes rates. (These Blood Groups Run a Higher Risk of Diabetes)
WIth inputs from IANS