Type 2 and Environmental Chemicals Linked

Adding to the evidence that there are multiple factors behind the Type 2 diabetes epidemic, several more studies have come out suggesting a possible link between the condition and various chemicals in the environment:


Chemicals in Personal Care Products May Increase Women’s Diabetes Risk
We’ve written previously about research showing a possible link between phthalates (pronounced THAL-ates), substances found in items ranging from cosmetics to hairsprays to automobiles, and Type 2 diabetes. In a recent study, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital analyzed the urinary concentration of phthalates in over 2,300 women and discovered a link between increased levels of these chemicals in the body and a heightened risk of Type 2. Women with the highest levels of certain types of phthalates had almost double the risk of Type 2 diabetes as women with the lowest levels of those chemicals.

The researchers caution that further studies are needed to determine whether the increased levels of phthalates in the body may have contributed the diabetes or vice-versa, noting that certain medical devices and medicines used to treat diabetes contain phtalates.

“This is an important first step in exploring the connection between phthalates and diabetes,” noted lead researcher Tamara James-Todd, PhD.

For more information, read the article “Chemicals in Personal Care Products — Phthalates — May Increase Risk of Diabetes in Women” or see the study’s abstract in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

POPs and Metabolic Syndrome
Meanwhile, scientists in Norway are finding that substances known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs), found in fatty foods such as dairy products, fatty fish, and other meats, can contribute to insulin resistance.

According to post-doctoral researcher Jerome Ruzzin at the University of Bergen, “A great number of studies are now showing that people with high concentrations of POPs in their body are developing metabolic syndrome. We are talking about ordinary people who live in normal environments, so this means that we are being exposed to far too high levels of POPs that may have a major impact on our health.”

To learn more, read the article “Pollutants May Contribute to Illness and Becoming Overweight” from the Research Council of Norway.

Fungicide Used on Crops Associated With Insulin Resistance
In research presented at the Endocrine Society’s 94th Annual Meeting, a link was found between the chemical tolyfluanid, used on farm crops in a number of countries outside the United States and on the paint in some ships, and insulin resistance. The investigators looked at the effect of the fungicide on fat cells in mouse tissue and discovered that cells exposed to the substance had a reduced response to insulin.

“For the public, this raises the specter of environmental pollutants as potential contributors to the metabolic disease epidemic,” said researcher Robert Sargis, MD, PhD.

To learn more, read the piece “Fungicide Used on Farm Crops Linked to Insulin Resistance” or see the presentation abstract from the Endocrine Society’s 94th Annual Meeting & Expo (free registration required).

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  • Joe

    So it comes down to exposure to a potentially insulin-resistance inducing substance or loosing millions of tons of food to mold.

    Not an easy choice.

  • K Gilmour

    Diane, Great Article!!

    I am so discouraged every time a new article comes up to expose new threats to our health that after the fact, have been making us sick or sicker. The mistake would be to give in to the feeling of hopelessness that this can inspire.

    Instead, I will take information and put it into my “wellness toolbox” so it’s there when I need to apply it.

    It’s not easy to live and eat “clean.”. At this point, all I can glean from all the info available boils down to:
    1 go back to basics as much as possible with filtered water
    2 instead of air freshness, open windows and air out the house as often as possible
    3 use things like dried herbs, spices and fresh flowers for home fragrances
    4 same for personal fragrances
    5 minimize use of cosmetics and/or go as natural as possible
    6 use plain soaps and cleaning products
    7 eat organic
    8 recently, we’ve begun investigating more natural treatments for ailments to replace Rx medications. As the pharmacist husband of a friend of mine states, “There’s a little poison in every pill.”
    That’s about all I can say we’re doing in my household.

    Life is precious and delicate – isn’t it.

  • Bob

    This article really makes me wonder if I was exposed to Agent Orange in Viet Nam when the VA said I wasn’t anywhere near it, even though I flew all over South Vietnam in helicopters. I’m the only one in my family who developed Type II diabetes, albeit almost 23 years after I was discharged from Brooke Army Medical Center for burns and injuries I received in a plane crash and the Army, and there’s no history of it in my family until me.

  • Colleen Sheehy

    Very informative article. I’m the adult child of a hoarder. This just adds to my suspicions that growing up in a hoard home, with all the indoor pollutants,has exacerbated my Type II diabetes as well as my other health problems. Dear Mama’ is a diabetic too – maybe THIS will persuade her to allow a clean-out…(Well, I can dream!)

  • Alan

    Bob, I served in Vietnam also. VA has changed rules on Agent Orange exposure. If you set one foot in RVN during your tour, you are now covered for Type II and VA will pick up all costs for medicine. Check with your county Veterans coordinator or call the nearest VA Hospital and ask for the patient advocate – who will guide you through. Best of Luck,

  • Bob L.

    Bob, I twice went to Vietnam and subsequently developed Type II. When I filed my claim, the VA said that anyone who served in Vietnam is presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange and approved my claim. You might want to check on that again.