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    Identifying the link between diabetes, environmental exposures

    Certain populations that include African Americans, Latinos and low-income Americans may be at higher risk of diabetes, partially due to their increased exposure to potentially harmful endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in the environment. That's the determination of a new study published in Diabetes Care.

    According to the National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2017, overall, diabetes prevalence was higher among American Indians/Alaska Natives (15.1%), non-Hispanic blacks (12.7%) and people of Hispanic ethnicity (12.1%) than among non-Hispanic whites (7.4%) and Asians (8.0%).

    The environmental study authors looked at nearly 70 articles addressing the connection between chemical exposures and metabolic disease, published from 1966 to December 2016. They found "significantly higher exposures" to diabetogenic EDCs that include:

    • Polychlorinated biphenyls: A class of 209 synthetic chemicals introduced in the United States in the 1930s. They were used in electrical, heat transfer and hydraulic equipment, along with other industrial applications, but remain in the environment even though banned in 1977.

    • Organochlorine pesticides: This class was an early generation of synthetic pesticides used extensively in the U.S. for agriculture and mosquito control. They're still measurable in the U.S. population.

    • Multiple chemical constituents of air pollution: This includes fine particles, noxious gases, ground level ozone, tobacco smoke and more.

    • Bisphenol A: It is a common synthetic chemical used in the production of polycarbonate and other plastics commonly found in consumer products, including the lining of food and beverage cans.

    • Phthalates: These are synthetic compounds used to enhance the flexibility of plastics, including those composed of polyvinyl chloride (PVC). They are also used in a variety of personal care products, including fragrances, cosmetics, shampoos and lotions, as well as in other applications.

    It's known that EDCs disrupt the body's normal hormonal processes and that some can actually reduce the way the body produces or responds to insulin.

    Next: The role of chemicals

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