High levels of persistent organic pesticides (POPs) in the blood are linked to the development of insulin resistance, a precursor to Type 2 diabetes. This claim is made in new research published in Diabetes Care and New Scientist magazines.
POPs are stored in fatty tissues and the researchers, based at Kyungpook National University and the University of Minnesota, suggest that this may be why obese people are more likely to develop diabetes. They also conclude that POPs could explain in part the worldwide trend of increasing Type 2 diabetes rates.
However, diabetes experts are expressing caution and warn that the study is far from conclusive.
"Insulin resistance is often observed as an early warning sign for developing diabetes and therefore possible contributors to this state are always of interest," said Matt Hunt, Head of Science Information at Diabetes UK.
"However, this particular research paper appears extremely complex and speculative and it is not clear how substances such as organochlorines are contributing to the development of insulin resistance.
"Neither would it explain the global rises in obesity and Type 2 diabetes. At the moment we would not conclude that the rise of obesity can be attributed to pesticide use and should still be put down to increasingly unhealthy diets and lack of exercise."