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Pesticides and Diabetes

Exposure to pesticides may increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 64 percent, according to a new analysis of 21 studies by researchers in Greece and England. Another investigation reported that women who had elevated blood levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) during the first trimester of pregnancy were more than four times more likely than normal to develop gestational diabetes. While the researchers who conducted the analysis said that their results don’t prove that pesticides cause some cases of diabetes, they maintained that the findings add to a growing body of evidence suggesting that environmental contaminants play a key role in the development of the disease. After reviewing the studies, which included data on nearly 67,000 people, the researchers concluded that the increased risks seen were associated with the organic pollutants DDT, dieldrin, heptachlor, and HCB.  Most of the studies included in the review identified pesticide exposure via urine and blood analyses, methods that are considered very accurate. The authors of both analyses said that while diet, weight and exercise factors are also key to diabetes’ risk, the role of chemicals cannot be ignored. Animal and laboratory studies have shown that endocrine-disrupting chemicals can provoke precursors to diabetes and even diabetes itself. Results of both new analyses were presented at the September 2015 meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.