I have been harping for years now about endocrine disruptors in food. Even at very tiny doses, doses lower than that thought to cause cancer, they increase the risk for diabetes, obesity, and other metabolic disorders.
Regarding diabetes, remember this study?
A Strong Dose-Response Relation Between Serum Concentrations of Persistent Organic Pollutants and Diabetes, Diabetes Care, 2006
I wrote about it a lot. From the abstract:
OBJECTIVE – Low-level exposure to some persistent organic pollutants (POPs) has recently become a focus because of their possible link with the risk of diabetes.
RESULTS – Compared with subjects with serum concentrations below the limit of detection, after adjustment for age, sex, race and ethnicity, poverty income ratio, BMI, and waist circumference, diabetes prevalence was strongly positively associated with lipid-adjusted serum concentrations of all six POPs. When the participants were classified according to the sum of category numbers of the six POPs, adjusted odds ratios were 1.0, 14.0, 14.7, 38.3, and 37.7 (P for trend < 0.001). The association was consistent in stratified analyses and stronger in younger participants, Mexican Americans, and obese individuals.
CONCLUSIONS – There were striking dose-response relations between serum concentrations of six selected POPs and the prevalence of diabetes. The strong graded association could offer a compelling challenge to future epidemiologic and toxicological research.
The odds ratios were atronomical. Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) have an undeniable role in the development of diabetes.
Notes from Lee’s work:
- If you were overweight or obese but had low levels of POPS, you had a lower risk of diabetes than if you were lean but had high levels. POPs contributed more to diabetes than weight.
- “Chronic lifetime exposure to low doses of POPs could be stronger than in those with short-term exposure to high doses of POPs.”
- “Reverse causality [that having diabetes leads to higher POP levels] is unlikely because the metabolism of POPs in mammalian systems is intractable; the half-life of the compounds ranges from 7 to 10 years in humans.”
- POPs are detectable in the blood of greater than 80% of those tested.
- “Greater than 90% of POPs comes from animal foods in the general population without occupational or accidental exposures.”
- Pesticides are widely distributed in the environment. There’s no such thing as an unaffected pasture. So, organic meat, eggs, and dairy are not necessarily lowers in POPs. Sometimes they are higher (This post describes organic eggs that had over 3 times the EPA limit of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s RoundUp).
Many POPs are endocrine disruptors. I’ve said for years that BPA, an endocrine disruptor used in plastics and can linings, should be banned. Here’s Dr. Greger in a recent video:
Highlights (although the whole video is great):
The number of new chemicals is increasing exponentially – we’re talking 12,000 new substances a day. Yet, data aren’t available on the hazards of even some of the high volume chemicals. BPA is one of the highest volume chemicals, with billions of pounds produced each year. And, studies have “raised concerns about its possible implication in the cause of some chronic diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, reproductive disorders, cardiovascular diseases, birth defects, chronic respiratory and kidney diseases and breast cancer.”
The fact that there are significant adverse effects in populations exposed to BPA at concentrations thousands of times lower than the official tolerable daily limit indicates that the safe exposure to BPA may be much lower than previously thought in humans.
As the world’s oldest, largest, and most active organization devoted to research on hormones concluded, even infinitesimally low levels of exposure – indeed, any level of exposure at all – may cause problems, nearly three billion dollars’ worth of problems every year, just counting the estimated effects of BPA on childhood obesity and heart disease alone.
Endocrine disruptors are harmful. To reduce our exposure we need to ban BPA (and its emerging replacements BPS and BPF), and reduce livestock exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs).