Association between Plasma Metal Levels and Diabetes Risk: a Case-control Study in China

Biomed Environ Sci. 2017 Jul;30(7):482-491. doi: 10.3967/bes2017.064.


Objective: Many metals, some of which have been classified as environmental endocrine disruptors, are used extensively in everyday consumer products and are ubiquitous in our living environment. In the present study, we aimed to explore the associations between the prevalence risk of type 2 diabetes and plasma levels of 20 trace elements as well as those of heavy metals in a Han Chinese population.

Methods: We conducted a case-control study to investigate the associations between plasma concentrations of 20 metals and diabetes in Jiangsu province. A total of 122 newly diagnosed cases of type 2 diabetes and 429 matched controls were recruited from community physical examinations in Suzhou City of Jiangsu Province. Plasma metal levels were measured by inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry.

Results: After adjusting for confounders, plasma vanadium, chromium, manganese, copper, zinc, arsenic, selenium, strontium, palladium, cadmium, cesium, and barium were associated with diabetes risk (P < 0.05). The adjusted OR increased with increasing concentration of vanadium, manganese, copper, zinc, and cesium.

Conclusion: Many metals, including manganese, copper, zinc, arsenic, selenium, and cadmium in plasma, are associated with the morbidity of diabetes. Monitoring of environmental metal levels and further studies are urgently needed.

Keywords: Arsenic; Cadmium; Chromium; Diabetes; Metals.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus / blood*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / etiology
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metals / blood*
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Metals