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Long-term pesticide exposure may increase risk of diabetes
Date:6/4/2008

hose in the lowest pesticide use category compared with 4.6 percent of those in the highest category. Risks were greater when users of specific pesticides were compared with applicators who never applied that chemical. For example, the strongest relationship was found for a chemical called trichlorfon, with an 85 percent increase in risk for frequent and infrequent users and nearly a 250 percent increase for those who used it more than 10 times. In this group, 8.5 percent reported a new diagnosis of diabetes compared with 3.4 percent of those who never used this chemical. Trichlorfon is an organophosphate insecticide classified as a general-use pesticide that is moderately toxic. Previously used to control cockroaches, crickets, bedbugs, fleas, flies and ticks, it is currently used mostly in turf applications, such as maintaining golf courses.

"This is one of the largest studies looking at the potential effects of pesticides on diabetes incidence in adults," said Freya Kamel, Ph.D., a researcher in the intramural program at NIEHS and co-author in the paper appearing in the May issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology. "It clearly shows that cumulative lifetime exposure is important and not just recent exposure," said Kamel. Previous cross-sectional studies have used serum samples to show an association between diabetes and some pesticides.

Diabetes occurs when the body fails to produce enough insulin to regulate blood sugar levels or when tissues stop responding to insulin. Nearly 21 million Americans have diabetes. The cause of diabetes continues to be a mystery, although genetics and environmental factors such as obesity and lack of exercise appear to play roles.

To conduct the study, the researchers analyzed data from more than 30,000 licensed pesticide applicators participating in the Agricultural Health Study, a prospective study following the health history of thousands of pesticide applicators and their spouses in North Caro
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Contact: Robin Mackar
rmackar@niehs.nih.gov
919-541-0073
NIH/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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