Associations Between Persistent Organic Pollutants, Type 2 Diabetes, Diabetic Nephropathy and Mortality

Occup Environ Med. 2017 Jul;74(7):521-527. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2016-103948. Epub 2017 Apr 24.


Objective: Relationships were examined between persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and incident type 2 diabetes, end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and mortality.

Methods: In a nested case-control study, 300 persons without diabetes had baseline examinations between 1969 and 1974; 149 developed diabetes (cases) and 151 remained non-diabetic (controls) during 8.0 and 23.1 years of follow-up, respectively. POPs were measured at baseline. ORs for diabetes were computed by logistic regression analysis. The cases were followed from diabetes onset to ESRD, death or 2013. HRs for ESRD and mortality were computed by cause-specific hazard models. Patterns of association were explored using principal components analysis.

Results: PCB151 increased the odds for incident diabetes, whereas hexachlorobenzene (HCB) was protective after adjusting for age, sex, body mass index, sample storage characteristics, glucose and lipid levels. Associations between incident diabetes and polychlorinatedbiphenyl (PCB) or persistent pesticide (PST) components were mostly positive but non-significant. Among the cases, 29 developed ESRD and 48 died without ESRD. PCB28, PCB49 and PCB44 increased the risk of ESRD after adjusting for baseline demographic and clinical characteristics. Several PCBs and PSTs increased the risk of death without ESRD. The principal components analysis identified PCBs with low-chlorine load positively associated with ESRD and death without ESRD, and several PSTs associated with death without ESRD.

Conclusions: Most POPs were positively but not significantly associated with incident diabetes. PCB151 was significantly predictive and HCB was significantly protective for diabetes. Among participants with diabetes, low-chlorine PCBs increase the risk of ESRD and death without ESRD, whereas several PSTs predict death without ESRD.

Keywords: Diabetes mellitus; PCBs; Pesticides; Renal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arizona / epidemiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cause of Death
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / chemically induced*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology*
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / chemically induced*
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / mortality*
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Pollutants / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Fungicides, Industrial / adverse effects
  • Hexachlorobenzene / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / chemically induced*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / mortality*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Organic Chemicals / adverse effects
  • Pesticides / adverse effects*
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / adverse effects
  • Young Adult


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Fungicides, Industrial
  • Organic Chemicals
  • Pesticides
  • Hexachlorobenzene
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls