Study: Pesticide exposure may increase Type 2 diabetes risk

Persistent organic pollutants linked to Type 2 diabetes in obese, elderly people

INDIANAPOLIS — Researchers in Finland said they have confirmed a link between Type 2 diabetes and pesticides known as persistent organic pollutants, according to a new study in the journal Diabetes Care.

The study is not the first to show a link between the disease and the pollutants, also known as POPs, but it found that patients with the highest exposure to such chemicals as polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, and oxychlordane had a risk of Type 2 diabetes up to more than twice as high as those with the lowest levels of exposure, especially if they were overweight.

The researchers, led by Riikka Airaksinen of the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Kuopio, Finland, selected 1,988 participants from a cohort of 8,760 people born in Helsinki between 1934 and 1944, before the global peak in POP emissions.

Another study, conducted among 725 elderly people in Uppsala, Sweden, and also published in Diabetes Care, also found a link between exposure to POPs and Type 2 diabetes.

While many of the pesticides have been banned or restricted, they build up in the environment and collect in the fatty tissue of animals and people. An earlier study, published in the journal in 2007 and led by Lee Duk-Hee of Kyungpook National University in Daegu, Korea, who also was involved in the Swedish study, found that exposure to POPs increased insulin resistance, a known factor in Type 2 diabetes.

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