Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Environmental Pollutants May Up Risk For Diabetes

The buzz at work this week is that pesticides could increase the risk for diabetes, and insulin resistance - big time. This week's Lancet came out with a commentary highlighting the work of Dr. Duk-Hee Lee, et al. Dr. Lee's group found the odds of having diabetes were 38 times higher! for people with high blood levels of toxic persistent organic pollutants (POPs, such as dioxin and PCBs) than for people with low levels. And the association was dose dependant - the higher your levels, the higher your risk.

And this - He found no link with obesity. If you were overweight or obese but had low levels of POPS, you had a lower risk of diabetes than if you were lean but had high levels.

And this - "Chronic lifetime exposure to low doses of POPs could be stronger than in those with short-term exposure to high doses of POPs."

And this - "Reverse causality [that having diabetes leads to higher POP levels] is unlikely because the metabolism of POPs in mammalian systems is intractable; the half-life of the compounds ranges from 7 to 10 years in humans."

And this - POPs are detectable in the blood of greater than 80% of those tested.

And this - (I hate to say this so I'll just use a quote from one of his studies.) "Greater than 90% of POPs comes from animal foods in the general population without occupational or accidental exposures."

And this - As you can see from the US Geological Survey's diagram, pesticides are widely distributed in the environment. There's no such thing as an unaffected pasture.

The thing that's causing the buzz is the strength of this association. Not much work has been done is this area, but that which was has shown a strong and consistent pattern.
A couple of Dr. Lee's studies:
A Strong Dose-Response Relation Between Serum Concentrations of Persistent Organic Pollutants and Diabetes, Diabetes Care, 2006.
Association Between Serum Concentrations of Persistent Organic Pollutants and Insulin Resistance Among Nondiabetic Adults, Diabetes Care, 2007.

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