Evidence from cell studies indicates that persistent organic pollutants (POP) can induce insulin resistance, an essential component of the metabolic syndrome (MetS). We hypothesized that residential proximity to environmental sources of POP would be associated with the MetS in the population. The present study examined the association between residency in a zip code containing or abutting environmental sources of POP and MetS-related hospitalization rates. Hospitalization data were obtained from the New York Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System. Relative risks (RR) were calculated as hospitalization rate ratios. Adjusted RR and their 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated by multivariable Poisson regression. A higher proportion of African Americans resided in POP zip codes compared to Caucasians (25.9% and 24.3%, respectively, p < 0.01). Residence in POP zip codes was associated with a statistically significant 39.2% increase in MetS-related hospitalization rates, adjusted for race, gender, and age (adjusted RR = 1.392, 95% CI: 1.032-1.879, p = 0.030). Increase in age was independently associated with higher MetS-related hospitalization rates (p for trend < 0.001). Our findings contribute to the body of evidence supporting the hypothesis of POP constituting an environmental risk factor for the MetS. Further studies investigating exposure to POP and insulin resistance are warranted.
Keywords: hazardous waste sites; metabolic syndrome; persistent organic pollutants; residential proximity.