Azara Blog: Correlation found between persistent organic pesticides and insulin resistance

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Date published: 2007/04/12

The BBC says:

More evidence has emerged suggesting a link between pollutants found in oily fish and type two diabetes.

An international team found high levels of persistent organic pesticides (POPs) in the blood correlated to insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes.

POPs are stored in fatty tissues - the study suggested this may be why obese people are more vulnerable to diabetes.

However, experts have said that the study published in Diabetes Care is far from conclusive.

Patients resistant to the hormone insulin are unable to remove excess glucose from their blood, and this is normally an important step in the onset of type two diabetes.

The new research therefore suggests that POPs act critically at a very early stage in the development of diabetes.
But the work does not confirm a causal link - it is possible that that having insulin resistance could reduce people's ability to clear POPs from their system, thus explaining the association.

Lead author Professor Duk-Hee Lee said the evidence needed to be replicated and developed in other studies, and called for molecular studies to explain the link between pesticides and insulin resistance.

Astonishing, the BBC for once points out that a health study has only proven a correlation, not a causation. Unfortunately the standard method of health-related studies these days seems to be to pick on some chemical (e.g. POPs) that is deemed suspect, and look for correlations between that chemical and anything and everything that is deemed to be bad (e.g. insulin resistance) and as soon as some correlation is found, imply that in fact this is a causation and that therefore the chemical is indeed at fault. Of course the chemical might well be at fault, only it is not at all proven.

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