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Researcher says chemicals are behind rise in obesity and diabetes
06.26.2012High levels of exposure to common industrial chemicals may increase a person's risk of gaining weight and experiencing metabolic problems that may contribute to the development of diabetes, according to one leading expert.
Obesity and diabetes rates have been rising dramatically in recent years. Most researchers have blamed these trends on increasingly sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy eating habits. These factors doubtlessly play a role, but Jerome Ruzzin, a researcher at the University of Bergin in Norway, said they are not sufficient to fully explain the rise in obesity and diabetes.
He believes that the growing use of chemicals known as persistent organic pollutants, or POPs, is behind the rising obesity and diabetes rates. These chemicals are used in vinyls, some pharmaceuticals and certain flame-retardant materials. They often end up in food because they do not break down naturally. They can get into animal and plant foods because of their long lifecycle.
Ruzzin said that numerous studies conducted in animals have shown that high levels of exposure to POPs can lead to a range of metabolic disturbances. For example, one investigation conducted in mice showed that animals fed large quantities of POP-rich salmon developed insulin resistance.
"A great number of studies are now showing that people with high concentrations of POPs in their body are developing metabolic syndrome," Ruzzin said. "We are talking about ordinary people who live in normal environments."
More research should be conducted to fully understand the effect of POPs on human health, Ruzzin said. This could help public health agencies decide whether the chemicals should be more tightly regulated. In the meantime, individuals who have started to gain weight or experience the symptoms of diabetes may want to seek help from healthcare and wellness programs.
Categories: Health and Wellness
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