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Korean J Fam Med. 2016 Sep;37(5):267-72. doi: 10.4082/kjfm.2016.37.5.267. Epub 2016 Sep 21.

The Relationship between the Blood Level of Persistent Organic Pollutants and Common Gastrointestinal Symptoms.

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Department of Family Medicine, Kyungpook National University Hospital, Daegu, Korea.
Department of Family Medicine, Kyungpook National University School of Medicine, Daegu, Korea.
Graduate School of Public Health, Kyungpook National University, Daegu, Korea.
Regional Cardiocerebrovascular Center, Kyungpook National University Hospital, Daegu, Korea.



Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are toxic materials that cannot be broken down naturally and that easily accumulate in the body. Although several studies have attempted to reveal the effects of POPs on the endocrine and nervous system and on cancer, few studies focus on the relationship between low-dose POPs and public health. We attempted to find a relationship between the level of POPs and common gastrointestinal symptoms, including abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, and constipation.


We recruited 121 subjects who visited Kyungpook National University Hospital for a health screening. Plasma concentrations were evaluated for 40 kinds of POPs including 17 types of polychlorinated biphenyls and 23 types of organochlorine pesticides. Furthermore, the Korean version of the Rome III criteria was used to identify gastrointestinal symptoms.


Our results showed that abdominal discomfort had an inverse relationship with several polychlorinated biphenyls. Moreover, an inverted U-shaped relationship was observed between abdominal discomfort and several other organochlorine pesticides including p,p'-dichlorodiphenyldichloroethane and p,p'-dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, and the effects of these pesticides on abdominal discomfort were similar to that of organochlorine pesticides on obesity and metabolic syndrome.


Our results suggest that mild and unspecified gastrointestinal symptoms with no clear cause could be related to POPs levels.


Abdominal Discomfort; Constipation; Diarrhea; Persistent Organic Pollutants

Conflict of interest statement

No potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.

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