Europe is faced with an epidemic of diabetes. The number of new cases has doubled in the past 15 years and is expected to rise by roughly 1% per year from now on. Rates vary from roughly one person in 65 in the 20-79 age group in Iceland to one person in 12 in Germany and Cyprus.
The recent World Health Organization (WH) report says that the chemical “obesogens”, which have been shown to cause obesity in animal studies, are also associated with altered glucose tolerance and reduce insulin resistance, which are signs of diabetes.
Diabetes specialists have also acknowledged that various chemicals and heavy metals may be playing a role in the development of diabetes. In 2011, an article in Diabetologia described how environmental chemicals affect the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. The paper says that bisphenol A (BPA), PCBs, dioxin, organophosphorous pesticides, arsenic, heavy metals, and others can all affect how the beta cells function, interfere with their capacity to secrete insulin, and may be significant in the development of type 2 diabetes.
A study in Spain showed BPA also as a possible contributor to the way in which the body regulates glucose.
Scientists at the University of Uppsala, Sweden analysed blood samples for exposure to phthalates, a suspected endocrine disrupter. They found that those participants with a high level of phthalates in their blood were nearly twice as likely to contract type 2 diabetes compared with their peers.