May 29, 2010

Exposure to organochlorine pesticides can give you Type 2 diabetes

If you are suffering from type 2 diabetes, don't blame it only on your lifestyle. Exposure to organochlorine (OC) pesticides can also be the reason for your getting this disease. Recent studies in Stanford have established the link, and have also called for more research to ascertain the biological pathways by which the persistent organic pollutants (POPs) affects glucose homeostasis.

Although there has been a global movement against the POP chemicals, but somehow the pesticides industry has managed to ensure that these deadly and hazardous chemicals are not banned. In the US and also in India, both countries leading the global spread of diabetes, organochlorine pesticides are extensively used and abused. The 2001 OECD Outlook indicates that since 1970 global sales of chemicals have grown almost nine-fold. More recently, International Council for Chemical Association (ICCA) estimates that in 2007, the turnover for the global chemical industry was US $ 3,180 billion.

Under the Stockholm Convention, a lot of effort is being made to ascertain the impact of POPs and also find ways to phase them out. All over the world we find that while the farmers as well as the civil society is in favour of its phase out, and have come up with sustainable alternatives, yet the governments are reluctant. The reason is obvious. To know more about it, I draw your attention to an excellent report 'Practices in the Sound Management of Chemicals', a UNDESA, Stockholm Convention and ENEP publication.

My idea of bringing all this to your attention is not only to create awareness about how the vicious cycle operates but also to mobilise public opinion on the immediate need to remove chemical pesticides from the food chain. Please don't be carried away by the industry claim that if pesticides are withdrawn, food production will collapse. They have used the hunger argument for several decades now, and much of the health problems the world faces today are the outcome of this.

You need to stand up and be counted. You can force the governments to behave. Demand the withdrawal of POP chemicals. I can assure you the health of your family as well as future generations would be much safer. The choice is yours.

Here is the PANUPS update on Pesticides linked to diabetes.

A new study out of Stanford reinforces the link between type 2 diabetes and organochlorine (OC) pesticide exposure by pioneering a new method for assessing the contribution of environmental factors to disease formation more generally. More than 23 million people in the U.S. suffer from the disease, which is on the rise, and genetics have thus far offered little insight. The studies specific findings were that the development of type 2 diabetes correlates strongly with the presence of the OC pesticide-derivative heptachlor in blood or urine, with environmental contaminant polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) also showing a significant association. Beta-carotenes had a protective effect against the development of type 2 diabetes. At least as significant as the study's findings were its methodological advances in documenting environmental contributions to health outcomes.

Disease formation is enormously complex, requiring analysis of myriad causal factors over long time frames. Accordingly, the demonstration of causality for increased incidence of chronic diseases like cancer, type 2 diabetes and other autoimmune and metabolic disorders has been difficult. Over the last few decades, much more money has been devoted to the study of genetic and lifestyle causal factors than to environmental ones -- one effect of which has been the "gross underestimation" of environmental contributions to disease-formation. The Stanford authors piloted an Environment-Wide Association Study (EWAS) in which epidemiological data are comprehensively and systematically interpreted in a way that builds upon Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS). Using National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data, scientists performed multiple cross-sectional analyses associating 266 environmental factors with the occurrence of type 2 diabetes. Of those 266 environmental factors, OC pesticide-derivative heptachlor showed the strongest correlation. According to Scientific American, the idea for conducting what amounts to a "mass-screening" of environmental risk factors came from a Stanford graduate student, Chirag Patel, the study's lead author. Patel wanted to find a way to "use bioinformatics for the environment," in part to address widespread dissatisfaction with what genetics have been able to explain about disease risk factors. "The time is ripe, to usher in 'enviromics'," claim the study's authors.

You can also read the Stanford study quoted in the report above.
Organochlorine Exposure and Incidence of Diabetes in a Cohort of Great Lakes Sport Fish Consumers

1 comment:

jayan said...


i felt that the writing today comes at an appropriate time when the Indian pesticide industry has been putting all efforts to get the country India to shame and further their interest selling poisons. The connection of the poisons to health impacts are more and more being proven everyday by science and the industry it do not have enough sound for them to hear and it does not reach their diseased ears. So i am happy to see that the message is travelling wider and i just read the UNEP report you referred "Practices in the Sound Management of Chemicals" and it is available at under latest news if any body wants to have a look.