Exposure to pesticides increases the risk of developing diabetes by 61 per cent, with different types of pesticides showing varying levels of risk, an analysis of 21 studies has found.
Emerging evidence suggests that environmental contaminants – including pesticides – may play an important role in the pathogenesis of diabetes, researchers said.
In the study, Giorgos Ntritsos from the University of Ioannina, Greece and Ioanna Tzoulaki and Evangelos Evangelou from Imperial College London, UK and colleagues performed a systematic review of observational studies that assessed the association between exposure to pesticides and diabetes.
The association between exposure to any pesticide and all types of diabetes was examined. Separate analyses for studies that looked only at type 2 diabetes (T2D) participants were performed.
A total of 21 studies were identified assessing the association between pesticides and diabetes, covering 66,714 individuals.
Most studies did not report the specific diabetes type examined. In almost all of the studies analyses, pesticide exposure was determined by blood or urine biomarker analysis, one of the most accurate methods.
The researchers found that exposure to any type of pesticide was associated with increased risk of any type of diabetes by 61 per cent.
In the 12 studies analysing only type 2 diabetes, the increased risk was 64 per cent for those exposed to pesticides, researchers said.
For individual pesticides, increased risk was identified in association with exposure to chlordane, oxylchlordane, trans-nonachlor, DDT, DDE dieldrin, heptachlor and HCB.
“This systematic review supports the hypothesis that exposure to various types of pesticides increases the risk of diabetes,” researchers said.
“Analysing each pesticide separately suggests that some pesticides are more likely to contribute to the development of diabetes than others,” they said.