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Exposure to Pesticides Increases Risk of Diabetes

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A new study of adults in Spain points to a possible culprit for our expanding waistlines.

pesticides, Europeans, Americans, fat, Diabetes

North Americans and Europeans have ballooned up to noticeably fatter proportions in recent decades, and new research originating from the University of Granada has revealed a direct connection between exposure to pesticides in food, air, and water & incidence of adult-onset type 2 diabetes. The relationship was found to exist without respect to age, gender or body mass index, according to data in the study.

The substances found in pesticides tend to collect and concentrate in human body fat. This new revelation may be a contributing factor as to why obese people are susceptible to developing diabetes.

‘Human adipose tissue acts as an energy reservoir and has an important metabolic function,’ said University of Granada and San Cecilio researcher Juan Pedro Arrebola. ‘However, adipose tissue can store potentially harmful substances, such as persistent organic pollutants.’

Researchers noted that people with higher concentrations of DDE – the main metabolite in the pesticide DDT – are 400% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those with lower concentrations. The risk of type 2 diabetes is also linked to exposure to  β-HCH (beta-Hexachlorocyclohexane), which is found in the formula of the widely utilized pesticide Lindano.

386 adults had the concentrations of a particular group of Persistent Organic Pollutants (COPs) in their adipose tissues examined for the study.

COPs are a group of chemicals present in pesticides, industrial waste and building materials. They are able to enter the body via food, air or water. COPs concentrations in fat tissue are an effective marker of a person’s exposure to COPs.

‘The mechanism of action by which COPs increases the risk of diabetes is still unknown,’ says Professor Arrebola. ‘However, some researchers have suggested that COPs might cause an immunological response when they penetrate estrogen receptors in tissues associated with the metabolism of sugars.’

Its possible that this new research will assist scientists in determining what exactly is causing the rapid increase in diabetes that MDs have noted in the past few decades.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Arrebola J, Pumarega J, Gasull M, Fernandez M, Martin-Olmedo P, Molina-Molina J, Fernández-Rodríguez M, Porta M, & Olea, N (2013) Adipose Tissue Concentrations of Persistent Organic Pollutants and Prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes in Adults from Southern Spain Environmental Research DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2012.12.001

effects of pesticides on health, pesticides and food safety, pesticides harmful

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