New Study Suggests Pesticides Can Cause Diabetes

Something in our diets may be contributing to type-2 diabetes and it is not sugar. A new study suggests pesticide residues.

This is not the first time “persistent organic pollutants” have been linked to diabetes. In fact, many of these pesticides have been banned for decades after discovering an association for other health risks like cancer. But some of these “persistent” chemicals have remained in the soil for a long time and have made their way into animals and humans.

For the study — published in the August 4 issue of Diabetes Care — Finnish researchers analyzed blood samples of 2,000 adults and found the highest exposure to the pesticide, oxychlordane, was associated with a two-times higher risk for type-2 diabetes.

Some experts think this may be more than just an association.

“I fear that the association of chlorinated persistent organic pollutants with diabetes is causal,” David R. Jacobs, PhD, professor of epidemiology at the University of Minnesota, said in a press release. Some research has suggested pesticides can disrupt endocrine function, which in turn disrupts the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar.

According to the CDC, chlordane remains in soil near factories where they were manufactured, which can make their ways into our diets through fatty foods, dairy products, and fish. Despite being banned in the U.S. in 1988, chlordane remains in soil but concentrations have decreased over time.

Even though modern pesticides are safer and less persistent, they still come with risks, according to Jacobs.

“We need much better and more thorough safety testing for substances that we use in industry and for pest control,” he said.

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