The association of type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance/secretion with persistent organic pollutants in two First Nations communities in northern Ontario

Diabetes Metab. 2013 Dec;39(6):497-504. doi: 10.1016/j.diabet.2013.01.006. Epub 2013 Apr 29.


Aims: Recent evidence suggests an association between persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and type 2 diabetes. In two First Nations communities where wild food is consumed by a large portion of the population, we compared pollutants in plasma between diabetic and non-diabetic individuals, and investigated the strength of association between pollutants and insulin resistance/secretion in non-diabetic individuals.

Methods: The study population consisted of 72 participants. Oral Glucose Tolerance Tests were used to assess diabetes status. Plasma was used to determine POP concentrations and mercury concentrations were determined from hair samples.

Results: Age-adjusted plasma concentrations of some pollutants were significantly higher in diabetic than in non-diabetic individuals. When taking into account age, adiposity levels, and smoking status, POP levels were not associated with insulin resistance nor with insulin secretion in non-diabetic individuals.

Conclusions: These findings confirm that POP concentrations in plasma may be higher in diabetic than in non-diabetic individuals. No association was however seen between POP concentrations and markers of insulin resistance/secretion in non-diabetic individuals.

Keywords: Diabetes; Diabètes; First Nation; Inflammation; Insulin resistance; Persistent organic pollutants; Polluants organiques persistants; Premières Nations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Causality
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / ethnology*
  • Environmental Monitoring / statistics & numerical data*
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood*
  • Female
  • Food Contamination / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American / statistics & numerical data*
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin Resistance / ethnology*
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Male
  • Mercury / blood
  • Obesity / ethnology
  • Ontario / epidemiology
  • Pesticides / blood
  • Sex Distribution


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Insulin
  • Pesticides
  • Mercury