Pollution May Be Causing T2 Diabetes and Obesity

It sounds like Jerome Ruzzin is convinced that’s the case. I put some thought into it last August and was skeptical—still am, but I’m keeping an open mind. Mr. Ruzzin has a review article published in 2012 at BMC Public Health (“Public health concern behind the exposure to persistent organic pollutants and the risk of metabolic diseases”). Here’s his summary:

The global prevalence of metabolic diseases like obesity and type 2 diabetes, and its colossal economic and social costs represent a major public health issue for our societies. There is now solid evidence demonstrating the contribution of POPs [persistent organic pollutants], at environmental levels, to metabolic disorders. Thus, human exposure to POPs might have, for decades, been sufficient and enough to participate to the epidemics of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Based on recent studies, the fundaments of current risk assessment of POPs, like “concept of additive effects” or “dioxins and dl-PCBs induced similar biological effects through AhR”, appear unlikely to predict the risk of metabolic diseases. Furthermore, POP regulation in food products should be harmonized and re-evaluated to better protect consumers. Neglecting the novel and emerging knowledge about the link between POPs and metabolic diseases will have significant health impacts for the general population and the next generations.

Read the whole enchilada.

The cold-water fatty fish I so often recommend to my patients could be hurting them. They are major reservoirs of food-based POPs.

Steve Parker, M.D.

2 responses to “Pollution May Be Causing T2 Diabetes and Obesity

  1. Dr. Parker:

    Your site deserves much more traffic. Your posts are always interesting and thought provoking. I am convinced that the tsunami of diabetes has to be caused by something widely dispersed in the air, water, or food chain, or some combination thereof. Those of us who are susceptible to diabetes (because of whatever set of multifactorial reasons) are afflicted to one degree or another.

    My strategy is to eschew sugar and wheat (gluten sensitivity, I think), minimize carbs (target 100 gms a day of low GI foods), avoidance (as far as possible) of omega-6s, and low-on the food chain fish: sardines, anchovies, mussels, clams, etc. I eat red meat, chicken, eggs, and dairy, so far from CAFO sources.

    Apropos of your post, I have been thinking of going free-range organic, but at 73, I wonder how much previous damage I can undo in my remaining time.

    Here’s good tabulation of omega-3s in pelagic fresh and ocean fish, as well as some other helpful fat info and a good set of sources:


    • Hi, mike394.
      I agree with your implication that younger folks have better success reversing physical/metabolic damage. Worth giving it a try, however. I wouldn’t expect great benefits from going free-range organic. If you see them, please share here.