Persistent organic pollutants and risk of diabetes and obesity on healthy adults: Results from a cross-sectional study in Spain

Sci Total Environ. 2017 Dec 31;607-608:1096-1102. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.07.075. Epub 2017 Jul 27.


Environmental exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) has been reported to be relevant in the population of the Canary Islands (Spain), especially that of organochlorine pesticides. On the other hand, the population of this archipelago presents a high prevalence of type 2 diabetes (T2D), and it has been recently reported that environmental chemical contamination could play a role in the development of this disease. We performed a cross-sectional study in a representative sample from this archipelago to evaluate whether serum levels of selected POPs could be considered as risk factors for diabetes in this population. Serum levels of 30 POPs were determined in 429 adults (9.3% with T2D). We found that serum levels of p,p'-DDE (DDE), PCB-153 and PCB-118 were significantly higher among subjects having diabetes than in non-diabetic subjects (p=0.001, p=0.046, and p<0.0001, respectively). We observed a positive correlation between serum p,p'-DDE and glucose levels. Serum p,p'-DDE was identified as a risk factor for diabetes in univariate analysis in the whole series, and it remained as an independent risk factor for diabetes in subjects with serum glucose <126mg/dL (multivariate analysis, Exp(B)=1.283, CI 95% (1.023-1.611), p=0.031). Those normoglycemic subjects that are most exposed to p,p'-DDE (95th percentile: serum p,p'-DDE>5μg/L) seem to be those people at higher risk. Our results showed that p,p'-DDE levels were significantly higher among subjects having diabetes. These findings should be considered by public health Authorities to implement measures devoted to minimize human exposure to pollutants that could be harmful to the population.

Keywords: Aldrin (PubChem CID: 101611446); Canary Islands; Diabetes; Dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethylene; Dieldrin (PubChem CID: 969491); Endrin (PubChem CID: 71312306); PCB-101 (PubChem CID: 37807); PCB-105 (PubChem CID: 36188); PCB-114 (PubChem CID: 53036); PCB-118 (PubChem CID: 35823); PCB-123 (PubChem CID: 47650); PCB-126 (PubChem CID: 63090); PCB-138 (PubChem CID: 37035); PCB-153 (PubChem CID: 37034); PCB-156 (PubChem CID: 38019); PCB-157 (PubChem CID: 50891); PCB-167 (PubChem CID: 40479); PCB-169 (PubChem CID: 36231); PCB-180 (PubChem CID: 37036); PCB-189 (PubChem CID: 38306); PCB-202 (PubChem CID: 16495); PCB-28 (PubChem CID: 23448); PCB-52 (PubChem CID: 37248); PCB-77 (PubChem CID: 36187); PCB-81 (PubChem CID: 51043); Persistent organic pollutants; Polychlorinated biphenyls; Tetrachloro-m-xylene (PubChem CID: 70139); o,p′-DDD (PubChem CID: 4211); o,p′-DDE (PubChem CID: 246598); o,p′-DDT (PubChem CID: 13089); p,p′-DDD (PubChem CID: 6294); p,p′-DDE (PubChem CID: 3035); p,p′-DDT (PubChem CID: 3036); α-Hexachlorocyclohexane (PubChem CID: 727); β-Hexachlorocyclohexane (PubChem CID: 727); γ-Hexachlorocyclohexane/Lindane (PubChem CID: 727); δ-Hexachlorocyclohexane (PubChem CID: 727).

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology*
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / blood*
  • Spain / epidemiology


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls