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PLoS One. 2015 Apr 13;10(4):e0123742. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0123742. eCollection 2015.

Association of urinary metal profiles with altered glucose levels and diabetes risk: a population-based study in China.

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Key Laboratory of Environment and Health, Ministry of Education & Ministry of Environmental Protection, and State Key Laboratory of Environmental Health (Incubation), School of Public Health, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, 13 Hangkong Rd, Wuhan 430030, China.



Elevated heavy metals and fasting plasma glucose (FPG) levels were both associated with increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. However, studies on the associations of heavy metals and essential elements with altered FPG and diabetes risk were limited or conflicting. The objective of this study was to evaluate the potential associations of heavy metals and essential trace elements with FPG and diabetes risk among general Chinese population.


We conducted a cross-sectional study to investigate the associations of urinary concentrations of 23 metals with FPG, impaired fasting glucose (IFG) and diabetes among 2242 community-based Chinese adults in Wuhan. We used the false discovery rate (FDR) method to correct for multiple hypothesis tests.


After adjusting for potential confounders, urinary aluminum, titanium, cobalt, nickel, copper, zinc, selenium, rubidium, strontium, molybdenum, cadmium, antimony, barium, tungsten and lead were associated with altered FPG, IFG or diabetes risk (all P< 0.05); arsenic was only dose-dependently related to diabetes (P< 0.05). After additional adjustment for multiple testing, titanium, copper, zinc, selenium, rubidium, tungsten and lead were still significantly associated with one or more outcomes (all FDR-adjusted P< 0.05).


Our results suggest that multiple metals in urine are associated with FPG, IFG or diabetes risk. Because the cross-sectional design precludes inferences about causality, further prospective studies are warranted to validate our findings.

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