Dioxin tied to metabolic syndrome in Japan.

Oct 12, 2008

Uemura, H, K Arisawa, M Hiyoshi, A Kitayama, H Takami, F Sawachika, S Dakeshita, K Nii, H Satoh, Y Sumiyoshi, K Morinaga, K Kodama, T Suzuki, M Nagai, and T Suzuki. 2008. Prevalence of metabolic syndrome assocaites with body burden levels of dioxin and related compounds among general inhabitants in Japan.  Environmental Health Perspectives doi: 10.1289/ehp.0800012.

Synopsis by John Peterson Myers

A large new epidemiological study in Japan finds that even at background levels of exposure, people with higher levels of dioxin and dioxin-like PCBs are a significantly greater risk to metabolic syndrome, which includes high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.

A cross-sectional study of almost 1400 people drawn from the general public in Japan finds that people with higher levels of dioxin and dioxin-like PCBs are a significantly greater risk to metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is a very significant public health problem in the US and many other industrialized countries, including Asian nations like Japan. It is a collection of metabolic conditions that includes obesity, glucose intolerance and hypertension that has been increasing dramatically over the past 2 decades and is predicted to increase much more in the coming years. Health costs of caring for people with metabolic syndrome have skyrocketed, because it is tied to so many serious health problems, including Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Stimulated by US research reporting similar associations, the Japanese research team, from leading academic and government institutions around the country, re-analyzed an existing data set that had recruited people from throughout Japan, collating medical information and obtaining blood samples which were analyzed for the chemical contaminants.

They then used a series of statistical analyses to ask whether the chemicals were associated with increased risk of metabolic syndrome.

All of the dioxin-like chemicals measured, including dioxin itself, were linked to the disorder.  Using a method to assess total exposure to this family of chemicals, they found that the people most exposed were over five times more likely to suffer from the health condition.  Looking at some of the chemicals one-at-a-time, they found that some, by themselves, had an even stronger relationship, as high as 8 to 9 times more likely.