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Diabetes Care. 2011 Aug;34(8):1778-84. doi: 10.2337/dc10-2116. Epub 2011 Jun 23.

Polychlorinated biphenyls and organochlorine pesticides in plasma predict development of type 2 diabetes in the elderly: the prospective investigation of the vasculature in Uppsala Seniors (PIVUS) study.

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  • 1Department of Preventative Medicine, Kyungpook National University, Daegu, Korea.



Persistent organic pollutants (POPs), lipophilic chemicals that accumulate mainly in adipose tissue, have recently been linked to type 2 diabetes. However, evidence from prospective studies is sparse. This study was performed to evaluate prospective associations of type 2 diabetes with selected POPs among the elderly.


Nineteen POPs (14 polychlorinated biphenyl [PCB] congeners, 3 organochlorine pesticides, 1 brominated diphenyl ether, and 1 dioxin) were measured in plasma collected at baseline in 725 participants, aged 70 years, of the Prospective Investigation of the Vasculature in Uppsala Seniors (PIVUS).


After adjusting for known type 2 diabetes risk factors, including obesity, odds ratios (ORs) (95% CIs) for type 2 diabetes at age 75 years (n = 36) according to the quintiles of a summary measure of concentrations of PCBs (vs. the lowest quintile) were 4.5, 5.1, 8.8 (1.8-42.7), and 7.5 (1.4-38.8) (P(trend) <0.01). Among organochlorine pesticides, adjusted ORs across concentrations of trans-nonachlor showed that P(trend) = 0.03. Adjusted ORs (95% CIs) across quintiles of the sum of three organochlorine pesticides were 1.1, 1.6, 1.5, and 3.4 (1.0-11.7) (P(trend) = 0.03). Neither brominated diphenyl ether 47 nor dioxin was significantly associated with incident diabetes. The sum of PCBs improved reclassification significantly when added to traditional risk factors for diabetes.


Despite the small number of incident cases, this study found that environmental exposure to some POPs substantially increased risk of future type 2 diabetes in an elderly population.

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