Background: Pesticides are an agricultural chemical suspected to be a significant contributor to a global diabetes pandemic. The purpose of this study was to confirm previous findings of the link between diabetes and some agricultural pesticides and to identify the particular pesticides that are most likely to pose a risk of diabetes in the community.
Methods: A population-based case-controlled study was conducted among residents in the Bang Rakam district of Phitsanulok Province in Thailand. Lifetime pesticide exposure and other relevant data were collected from 866 participating cases with diabetes mellitus and 1021 healthy controls.
Results: After adjusting for gender, age, BMI, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, family history of diabetes, and occupation, it was found that the prevalence of diabetes was positively associated with exposure to all types of pesticides, including insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, rodenticides, and molluscicides, with exposure to rodenticides being statistically significant (OR = 1.35; 95%CI 1.04-1.76). Among 35 individual brand-named pesticides investigated, we found statistically significant ORs with three insecticides, including one organochlorine [endosulfan (OR = 1.40; 95%CI 1.01-1.95)], one organophosphate [mevinphos (OR = 2.22; 95%CI 1.17-4.19)], and one carbamate [carbaryl/Sevin (OR = 1.50; 95%CI 1.02-2.19)]; and one fungicides [benlate (OR = 2.08; 95%CI 1.03-4.20)].
Conclusions: Our results suggest that the occurrence of diabetes among Thai farmer was associated with pesticide exposure. This finding is in line with previous epidemiological and animal studies. Further study using a larger sample size is needed to confirm the relationship and to identify the more toxic compounds.
Keywords: Diabetes; Environmental exposure; Herbicides; Insecticides; Pesticides.