Saturday, 29 November 2014
Toxic Chemicals and Diabetes
Diabetes epidemics have followed the standard American diet across the world. The starches, sugars, and saturated fats in mass-produced foods would seem to be the cause. But maybe not. There are other nasty things in those packages.
Last week I attended the American Public Health Association (APHA)conference in San Francisco, and learned some things you might want to know. The most striking was the effect of environmental chemicals in the development of diabetes.
In my book, Diabetes: Sugar-Coated Crisis, I correctly called diabetes an environmental illness. But I mostly meant an environment of high stress, junk food, and few opportunities to move our bodies. I mentioned air and water pollution, but didn’t stress them.
Since then, much new research shows that environmental chemicals have a great deal to do with both diabetes and obesity. I learned much of this news from Sarah Howard, MS, National Coordinator of the Collaborative on Health and the Environment’s (CHE) working group on diabetes and obesity. Here is her Web site on diabetes.
This week we’ll look at chemicals and Type 2. Next week, I’ll write about Type 1.
Categories of pollutants that have been associated with Type 2 diabetes include the following:
• Persistent organic pollutants (POPs): A 2006 study found that US adults with the highest exposure to six kinds of POPs had 37.7 times the risk of diabetes of people with the lowest levels of exposure. You read that right, 37.7 times more diabetes! The POPs included dioxins, DDE, oxychlordane, and trans-nonachlor. The last two are breakdown products of the pesticide chlordane.
Virtually everyone in the modern world is contaminated with POPs. They were sprayed on most commercially grown foods in America and have many industrial uses. But the more you can avoid them, the better. You can find them lurking in animal fats. POPs and arsenic are the chemicals most strongly linked with diabetes by existing evidence.
According to a 2006 article in Diabetes Care, obesity did not increasethe risk of Type 2 diabetes in obese people with very low levels of POPs in their bodies. An editorial by a Spanish doctor in The Lancetin 2006 stated, “This finding would imply that virtually all the risk of diabetes conferred by obesity is attributable to persistent organic pollutants, and that obesity is only a vehicle for such chemicals. This possibility is shocking.”
POPs may do damage by disrupting hormone function or altering gene expression (function.)