Bitter sweet mess

Exposure to dioxins may lead to diabetes

Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

It is well established that exposure to dioxins can lead to reproductive problems and cancer. Now, a recent analysis has found a correlation between the harmful chemical and diabetes. Researchers from Ontario-based University of Guelph have analysed a variety of epidemiological studies and found that high levels of dioxins can increase the risk of suffering from diabetes. The studies involved employees of German and us chemical factories, local Italian population that was exposed to dioxins following explosion in a chemical factory; and us air force veterans who had sprayed defoliants during the Vietnam war.

During the analysis, the researchers found numerous subtle links. For instance, the levels of dioxins in us factory workers were around thirty times more than the unexposed people. Higher incidences of diabetes were also recorded among them. As for the us air force veterans, the researchers found that all of them had higher incidences of glucose abnormalities -- an indicator of diabetes. High levels of the chemical in them were even linked to abnormal insulin activity. These adverse effects persisted even in those veterans whose serum dioxin level had become normal. The researchers also found that there was an increased diabetes related mortality among those exposed to the chemical during the explosion.

However, a reverse relation was also found among some subjects. For example, workers of German factories who had acne as a result of dioxins exposure were found not to suffer from diabetes. Therefore, the researchers conclude that the association between exposure to dioxins and diabetes is not very strong. However, the authors assert the ubiquity of the chemical makes it a significant public health problem.

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