By Denise Reynolds RD for EmaxHealth.com
A unique analysis, led by Atul Butte, assistant professor of medical informatics and pediatrics at the Stanford University School of Medicine, used a government database to examine 266 potential environmental contributors to type 2 diabetes and confirmed links between several pollutants and the disease that affects about 24 million Americans. The research appears online in the May 20th edition of PLoS One.
Butte and colleagues examined data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The participants in the survey answer questionnaires about their health and submit blood and urine samples every two years. The agency then tests each sample for hundreds of pollutants and nutrients and, if present, measures the concentration.
Using this data, the researchers identified three factors linked to high blood sugar levels, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s), heptachlor epoxide, and a form of vitamin E called gamma-tocopherol. A positive factor affecting blood glucose levels was beta-carotene; those with the highest levels had 40% lower prevalence of diabetes.