Transcript: Diabetes and Dioxins
Finding higher diabetes rates among those heavily exposed to toxic pollutants—Agent Orange exposure, chemical plant explosions, living next to a toxic waste dump, or eating fish out of the Great Lakes—that’s one thing, but would the same link be found in just a random sample of the general population? Yes, a strong dose-dependent relationship was found between the levels of these pollutants circulating in people’s blood and diabetes. Those with the highest levels of pollutants in their blood stream had 38 times the odds of diabetes.
Interestingly, there was no association between obesity and diabetes among subjects with non-detectable levels of pollutants. In other words, obesity was a risk factor for diabetes only if people had blood concentrations of these pollutants above a certain level. We all know obesity predisposes us to diabetes, but according to this study, only if our bodies are polluted, only perhaps if the fat we’re carrying is carrying chemicals. This finding kind of implies that virtually all the risk of diabetes conferred by obesity is attributable to these pollutants, and that obesity might only be a vehicle for such chemicals. Could we be carrying around our own little toxic waste dump on our hips? This possibility is shocking.
Now it’s entirely possible that the six pollutants they looked at were not themselves causally related to diabetes. Rather, they could just be surrogates of exposure to a mixture of chemicals. After all, 90% of these pollutants comes from animal foods in the general population.
Except for individuals living or working around industrial sites where these chemicals were used or dumped, the most common source of exposure to PCBs is from diet, with foods of animal origin, especially seafood, so this strong relationship they found between certain pollutants and diabetes may just be pointing to other contaminants in animal products.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.
Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.