Does Pollution Cause Diabetes?

Emerging research is establishing a connection between environmental toxins and diabetes. Until now the focus has been on obesity and diet. But is appears that high blood levels of a liver enzyme called gamma glutamyl transferase (GGT) is associated with increased risk of diabetes. For example, a thin person with a high GGT is at higher risk of diabetes than an obese person with normal levels.


So what’s going on here? GGT levels go up in the presence of something called persistent organic pollutants (POPs). GGT is related to glutathione, a major detoxifier found in the liver. POPs are compounds that do not degrade. As a result, they persist in the environment, accumulate in humans and biomagnify in food chains.

Many POPs are pesticides, either in current use or banned in the past, such as DDT. Others include common industrial solvents and pharmaceutical drug. They come mostly from human industrial enterprise. Because POPs remain in the environment, they continue to make their way into human bloodstreams years after being banned. In addition, POPs store in fat tissues and exert their effects years after initial exposure. They are also transmitted in breast milk to the nursing child.


There are currently few regulations on the development or safety testing POPs. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only tests prescription drugs and consumable products. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will only investigate after sufficient complaints have been made. As general rule, if a chemical merits investigation, many people have already been harmed. Frustrated policy makers refer to this approach to public safety as the “dead body count” method of ascertaining risk. Although he EPA lists most POPs as “Extremely Hazardous Substances” (EHS), chemical production continues largely unregulated.


Is mainstream medicine unconcerned about these toxins?  Doctors are concerned about acute intoxications caused by the high dose intake of toxins in a short time period, which result in obvious acute illness.  The gradual accumulation of low levels of toxins cannot yet be measured by conventional testing methods, so most doctors behave as though they don’t exist. Also, most conventional medical research is conducted on one specific toxin, rather than small daily doses of many toxins over months and years. Many toxins in combination create a synergistic effect, which may be much more damaging than the effects of an individual toxin.
I expect it will be years before the political climate shifts and science methodology advances to the point where these issues will be adequately addressed by our government and medical community.


Any hospital lab can measure the GGT level in your blood. Most doctors, however, do not routinely order one. An above normal or high normal level may indicate some degree of toxic overload . . . and help clarify your risk of diabetes. You’ll learn more in upcoming issues about toxic overload and how to address it, when necessary.

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