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Pesticide Side Effects May Increase Diabetes Risk: Study

Researchers from Finland say that some types of pesticide appear to be associated with an increased risk of adults developing type 2 diabetes. 

People exposed to pesticides known as organochlorines were sometimes more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes, according to a study published earlier this month in the medical journal Diabetes Care.

Organochlorines are considered persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and were banned in the U.S. during the 1970s, but are still in use in some other countries.

Even though they are not legally used in the U.S., organochlorines still show up in the blood of adults, because they stay in the environment for years. Exposure to the pesticides in the U.S. comes through diet and build up in body fat. They have been a suspected contributor to diabetes risk for some time.

The researchers conducted a cohort study of 8,760 people who were born in Helsinki between 1934 and 1944 who were examined in 2003. They found that those with the highest exposures to organochlorines were up to 2.24 times more likely to be diagnosed as having type 2 diabetes. For some pesticides the association was stronger when the individual was overweight.

The findings confirm an association between type 2 diabetes and adult exposure to the pesticides, researchers concluded.

The study comes just weeks after a group of Chinese researchers linked pesticide exposure to an increased risk of birth defects. Researchers from Beijing looked at women from a county in China with a higher than average rate of neural tube birth defects and found that many of those who gave birth to malformed children had high amounts of chemicals in their placenta that are commonly associated with inhaling coal smoke and pesticides. Women with high levels of pesticide exposure were three times more likely to give birth to a child with neural tube birth defects.

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