Prevalence of metabolic syndrome associated with body burden levels of dioxin and related compounds among Japan's general population

Environ Health Perspect. 2009 Apr;117(4):568-73. doi: 10.1289/ehp.0800012. Epub 2008 Oct 10.


Background: Environmental exposure to some persistent organic pollutants has been reported to be associated with a metabolic syndrome in the U.S. population.

Objectives: We evaluated the associations of body burden levels of dioxins and related compounds with the prevalence of metabolic syndrome among the general population in Japan.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study with 1,374 participants not occupationally exposed to these pollutants, living throughout Japan during 2002-2006. In fasting blood samples, we measured biochemical factors and determined lipid-adjusted concentrations of 10 polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), 7 polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs), and 12 dioxin-like poly-chlorinated biphenyls (DL-PCBs) all of which have toxic equivalency factors. We also performed a questionnaire survey.

Results: The toxic equivalents (TEQs) of PCDDs, PCDFs, and DL-PCBs and total TEQs had significant adjusted associations with metabolic syndrome, whether or not we excluded diabetic subjects. By analyzing each component of metabolic syndrome separately, the DL-PCB TEQs and total TEQs were associated with all components, and the odds ratios (ORs) in the highest quartile of DL-PCB TEQs in four of the five components were higher than those for PCDDs or PCDFs. We also found congener-specific associations with metabolic syndrome; in particular, the highest quartiles of PCB-126 and PCB-105 had adjusted ORs of 9.1 and 7.3, respectively.

Conclusions: These results suggest that body burden levels of dioxins and related compounds, particularly those of DL-PCBs, are associated with metabolic syndrome. Of the components, high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides, and glucose intolerance were most closely associated with these pollutants.

Keywords: PCBs; PCDDs; PCDFs; cross-sectional study; dioxins; metabolic syndrome; poly-chlorinated biphenyls; polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins; polychlorinated dibenzofurans.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Benzofurans / blood*
  • Benzofurans / toxicity
  • Body Burden
  • Dibenzofurans, Polychlorinated
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood*
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / blood*
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / toxicity
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins / analogs & derivatives*
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins / blood
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins / toxicity
  • Prevalence
  • Young Adult


  • Benzofurans
  • Dibenzofurans, Polychlorinated
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls