Is There a Link Between Type-2 Diabetes & Toxins?
Back in 2011, the National Toxicology Program — a US government agency — convened a committee to evaluate existing studies on diabetes and various chemicals, including those found in pesticides, plastics, and cigarette smoke. According to a Reuters article on the workshop, the scientists concluded that in many cases, a strong connection exists between chemicals and Type 2 diabetes as well as obesity. One of the strongest connections, they found, was between maternal smoking during pregnancy and the child’s risk later on of developing obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Counterintuitively, in these cases low birth weight often indicates a later tendency toward obesity and diabetes. Other chemicals explored by the committee include the plastic BPA, used in some drinking bottles but increasingly out of favor; arsenic and other metals; and organic pesticides and related chemicals, which are widely used in conventional (non-organic) agriculture.
This Isn’t Surprising
We all know that chemicals in our foods, plastics, pesticides, and cigarette smoke are harmful. But, until not too long ago we were not sure just how harmful they were. If this is a conclusive link between these toxic chemicals and Type 2 diabetes, we are all one step closure to managing – and even preventing – these issues in the future. While BPA-Free plastic goods and organic foods are more expensive, you need to realize that your health is worth the extra cash.
But It’s Not Yet Conclusive
Yet while the scientists conclude that there is strong biological evidence of connections to diabetes from these chemicals, they cannot estimate how many people are affected as a result. Many studies reviewed as part of the workshop involved measuring the responses of chemical exposure in animals. Since no study intentionally exposing humans to toxins could ever be approved, it is not fully known how exposure in humans translates into clinical outcomes. Furthermore, it is often very difficult to measure chemical exposure in the real world, which would be necessary to conclude how much blame chemicals deserve for current rates of obesity and diabetes.