Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB) Exposure and Diabetes: Results from the Anniston Community Health Survey

Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB) Exposure and Diabetes: Results from the Anniston Community Health Survey

Article excerpt

BACKGROUND: Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) manufactured in Anniston, Alabama, from 1929 to 1971 caused significant environmental contamination. The Anniston population remains one of the most highly exposed in the world.

OBJECTIVES: Reports of increased diabetes in PCB-exposed populations led us to examine possible associations in Anniston residents.

METHODS: Volunteers (n = 774) from a cross-sectional study of randomly selected households and adults who completed the Anniston Community Health Survey also underwent measurements of height, weight, fasting glucose, lipid, and PCB congener levels and verification of medications. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (Cis) were calculated to assess the relationships between PCBs and diabetes, adjusting for diabetes risk factors. Participants with prediabetes were excluded from the logistic regression analyses.

RESULTS: Participants were 47% African American, 70% female, with a mean age of 54.8 years. The prevalence of diabetes was 27% in the study population, corresponding to an estimated prevalence of 16% for Anniston overall; the PCB body burden of 35 major congeners ranged from 0.11 to 170.42 ppb, wet weight. The adjusted OR comparing the prevalence of diabetes in the fifth versus first quintile of serum PCB was 2.78 (95% CI: 1.00, 7.73), with similar associations estimated for second through fourth quintiles. In participants < 55 years of age, the adjusted OR for diabetes for the highest versus lowest quintile was 4.78 (95% CI: 1.11, 20.6), whereas in those ?. 55 years of age, we observed no significant associations with PCBs. Elevated diabetes prevalence was observed with a 1 SD increase in log PCB levels in women (OR = 1.52; 95% CI: 1.01, 2.28); a decreased prevalence was observed in men (OR = 0.68; 95% CI: 0.33, 1.41).

CONCLUSIONS: We observed significant associations between elevated PCB levels and diabetes mostly due to associations in women and in individuals < 55 years of age.

KEY WORDS: diabetes, epidemiology, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), POPs. Environ Health Perspect 120:727-732 (2012). http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1104247 [Online 14 February 2012]

Diabetes incidence is increasing worldwide. Increasing obesity and sedentary lifestyle are major risk factors, but other environmental factors may also be important. Toxicants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxins are postulated to play a role, based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) (Lee et al. 2006, 2007) and studies from the Slovak Republic (Langer et al. 2002; Radikova et al. 2004), Sweden (Lee et al. 2011a), Japan (Tanaka et al. 2011; Uemura et al. 2008), Taiwan (Wang et al. 2008), and the United States (Codru et al. 2007; Lee et al. 2010, 2011b; Persky et al. 2011; Turyk et al. 2009a, 2009b; Vasiliu et al. 2006), but the results are inconsistent. In addition, commentaries (Jones et al. 2008; Porn 2006) have emphasized the need for additional research.

PCBs were produced in Anniston, Alabama, from 1929 to 1971 in a plant that was purchased by the Monsanto Corporation in 1935. Large amounts of PCB-containing waste discharged during production were revealed during litigation in Anniston (Grunwald 2002), with widespread contamination of soil, sediment, and air still found in the late 1990s [Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) 2000]. Evaluation of PCB levels in sera from adults in Anniston collected from 1996 to 1999 in smaller nonsystematic studies, or as a part of litigation, indicated that this was one of the most highly exposed communities in the world (ATSDR 2000; Hansen et al. 2003). In 2003, the ATSDR awarded funding to the Anniston Environmental Health Research Consortium (AEHRC) to conduct a health survey in Anniston adults. In this study, we examined the prevalence of diabetes in this population and the association of their serum PCB levels with diabetes. …

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