Serum concentrations of persistent organic pollutants and the metabolic syndrome in Akwesasne Mohawks, a Native American community

Environ Pollut. 2020 May:260:114004. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2020.114004. Epub 2020 Jan 23.


The metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a group of diseases that tend to occur together, including diabetes, hypertension, central obesity, cardiovascular disease and hyperlipidemia. Exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) has been associated with increased risk of development of several of the components of the MetS. The goal of this study is to determine whether the associations with POPs are identical for each of the components and for the MetS. The subject population was 601 Native Americans (Akwesasne Mohawks) ages 18 to 84 who answered a questionnaire, were measured for height and weight and provided blood samples for clinical chemistries (serum lipids and fasting glucose) and analysis of 101 PCB congeners and three OCPs [dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE), hexachlorobenzene (HCB) and mirex]. Associations between concentrations of total PCBs and pesticides, as well as various PCB congener groups with each of the different components of the MetS were determine so as to ask whether there were similar risk factors for all components of the MetS. After adjustment for other contaminants, diabetes and hypertension were strongly associated with lower chlorinated and mono-ortho PCBs, but not other PCB groups or pesticides. Obesity was most closely associated with highly chlorinated PCBs and was negatively associated with mirex. High serum lipids were most strongly associated with higher chlorinated PCBs and PCBs with multiple ortho-substituted chlorines, as well as total pesticides, DDE and HCB. Cardiovascular disease was not closely associated with levels of any of the measured POPs. While exposure to POPs is associated with increased risk of most of the various diseases comprising the MetS, the specific contaminants associated with risk of the component diseases are not the same.

Keywords: Diabetes; Hyperlipidemia; Hypertension; Native Americans; Obesity.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Indians, North American / statistics & numerical data
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pesticides
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls
  • United States / ethnology
  • Young Adult


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Pesticides
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls