Pollution by metals: Is there a relationship in glycemic control?

Environ Toxicol Pharmacol. 2016 Sep;46:337-343. doi: 10.1016/j.etap.2016.06.023. Epub 2016 Aug 10.


There are evidences of environmental pollution and health effects. Metals are pollutants implicated in systemic toxicity. One of the least studied effects, but which is currently becoming more important, is the effect of metals on glycemic control. Metals have been implicated as causes of chronic inflammation and oxidative stress and are associated to obesity, hyperglycemia and even diabetes. Arsenic, iron, mercury, lead, cadmium and nickel have been studied as a risk factor for hyperglycemia and diabetes. There is another group of metals that causes hypoglycemia such as vanadium, chromium, zinc and magnesium by different mechanisms. Zinc, magnesium and chromium deficiency is associated with increased risk of diabetes. This review summarizes some metals involved in glycemic control and pretends to alert health professionals about considering environmental metals as an important factor that could explain the poor glycemic control in patients. Further studies are needed to understand this poorly assessed problem.

Keywords: Diabetes; Hyperglycemia; Hypoglycemia; Insulin; Metals; Pollution.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / chemically induced*
  • Hyperglycemia / metabolism
  • Hypoglycemia / chemically induced*
  • Hypoglycemia / metabolism
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Metals / toxicity*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Insulin
  • Metals