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October 25th, 2017 by admin

Translation 2

Diabetes and endocrine disruptors: beware of chemical pollutants

Many studies have pointed to the role that some chemical products, like bisphenol A (BPA), dioxins and phthalates, play in the rapid increase in the number of people with diabetes.

It all began with diethylstilbestrol, a drug given to pregnant women up until the middle of the seventies, which caused malformations and cancer in some children.  Less well-known is the fact that people exposed in their mothers’ wombs also developed diabetes as adults twice more than average.

Since the worldwide type 2 diabetes epidemic seems difficult to explain by genetics, which have not evolved quickly enough, or by changes in lifestyle (physical inactivity, unbalanced diet) it raised suspicion.  To find out more, researchers carried out laboratory experiments.

They observed that by when they gave very small doses of diethylstilbestrol or BPA of pregnant rats or mice, their offspring became obese then diabetic.  The same thing happened with pesticides like DDT, dioxins or some phthalates, the molecules which are found in plastics.  What these products have in common is that they affect the way hormones work (which is why they are called endocrine disruptors), but they also interfere with the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats.

As far as humans are concerned, other studies have increased our suspicions.  First of all there are the consequences of accidental exposure, such as the explosion of a factory in Seveso in Italy in 1976 which produced a giant cloud of dioxins: girls who were contaminated had diabetes three times more frequently than the rest of the population when they were adults.

But the most tangible results come from longitudinal studies from the USA, Canada or Scandinavia, where those most exposed to endocrine disruptors in the past were also those who had most often ended up with metabolic disorders and diabetes.

Beware of these chemical pollutants.  It cannot be denied that they have “obesogenic” or “diabetogenic” properties.  Discussions are being held at European level to limit their use and people’s exposure to them.

Meanwhile, pregnant women at least should take precautions: avoid tins and cans, which are all lined with BPA, as are containers and plastic films in microwave ovens, choose organic food whenever possible, don’t repaint the nursery, and avoid handling pesticides during pregnancy.