Illinois Sustainable Technology Center - University of Illinois

Diabetes and Persistent Organic Pollutant Exposure in a the Great Lakes Fish Consumption Study

Presented by Mary Turyk - Associate Professor of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago

February 16, 2017

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Human exposure to persistent organic pollutants, or POPs, is ubiquitous and occurs primarily through consumption of contaminated foods, particularly fish. These toxicants affect many biological systems including hormone regulation, glucose homeostasis, neurologic function and reproduction; some are known carcinogens. The Great Lakes Fish Consumption Study was established in the early 1990's by a consortium of public health departments. This presentation will describe contaminant exposures and fish consumption in this longitudinal cohort.

One of the first prospective investigations on the role of POP exposures in the development of diabetes was conducted in this cohort, finding elevated diabetes risk in persons with greater exposure to DDE, a metabolite of DDT. While the biologic pathways by which environmental exposures may increase diabetes risk have not been elucidated, evidence will be presented that suggest POPs may have a stronger impact on blood glucose in persons at higher risk for diabetes.

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