Is dietary macronutrient intake associated with serum concentrations of organochlorine pesticides in humans?

Environ Pollut. 2020 Apr;259:113819. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2019.113819. Epub 2019 Dec 16.


In the general population, chronic exposure to low-dose persistent organic pollutants (POPs), particularly organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), has been recently linked to many chronic diseases. Widespread contamination of the food chain and human adipose tissue has made avoiding exposure to these chemicals impossible; thus, alternative strategies for decreasing the chemical burden must be investigated. Recently, macronutrient intake was found to significantly modify the toxicokinetics of POPs in animal experimental studies. Thus, we evaluated whether macronutrient intake was related to serum concentrations of OCPs in healthy adults without cardio-metabolic diseases. Subjects included 1,764 adults, aged 20 years or above, who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2004. Macronutrient intake was assessed based on a 24-h dietary recall interview. Six individual OCPs commonly detected among the general population were evaluated as markers of OCPs and other coexisting lipophilic chemicals stored in adipose tissue and released into circulation. High fat intake was associated with lower concentrations of OCPs, while high carbohydrate intake showed the opposite result. When three types of fats were individually evaluated, both saturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids, but not polyunsaturated fatty acids, were inversely associated with serum concentrations of OCPs. Adjustment for possible confounders did not change the results. When stratified by age, gender, body mass index, and physical activity, these associations were similar in most subgroups. Thus, similar to the findings observed in animal experimental studies, a moderate-fat diet with low carbohydrate intake was related to low serum concentrations of OCPs in humans. Although these findings need to be replicated, changing dietary macronutrient intake can be investigated as a practical strategy for dealing with unavoidable lipophilic chemical mixtures such as OCPs in modern society.

Keywords: Adipose tissue; Low carbohydrate high fat diet; Macronutrient; Organochlorine pesticide; Persistent organic pollutant.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diet*
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / blood*
  • Nutrients*
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Pesticides / blood*
  • Young Adult


  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Pesticides