When talking about diabetes risk factors, first of all rich diet, sedentary lifestyle and family history come to mind, but proof on the role of environmental contaminants particularly pesticides in diabetes is rising.
Pesticides have been utilized by humans to protect crops since before 2000
BC. Elemental sulfur dusting was the first recognized pesticides until 15th
century when heavy metals were introduced. During 17th and 19th centuries, some
natural compounds like nicotine, pyrethrum and rotenone were applied to kill
pests. It was since 1950 that organic insecticides including organochlorines,
organophosphates, carbamates and various herbicides started to be synthesized
and used widely so that more than 1,055 active ingredients are registered as
pesticides currently. The world pesticide use was approximated around 5.2 billion
pounds in 2006 and 2008 that means their usage has increased 50-fold during
the past 50 years (Miller, 2002; http://www.epa.gov/opp00001/pestsales/07pestsales/ma).
Pesticides are highly settled in todays world so that, from the public health
standpoint, their usage is not an option anymore but a must. Without utilization
of pesticides against vectors of diseases and pests, the destructive effects
on human and animal health and also economic loss would be huge. Rise of food
price, world hunger and loss of jobs are some results of not using pesticides
and thats why the world is greatly benefited from them. Nevertheless,
pesticides are major contributors to environmental pollution and their adverse
health effects on living systems are too big to close eyes to (Abdollahi
et al., 2004).
Recent scientific research revealed that exposure to pesticides causes a wide
variety of human health problems which among them some metabolic disorders like
diabetes recognized as one of the global major public health problems. To date,
growing body of data is collected from various animal and human studies that
implies on the association of pesticides exposure with diabetes (http://tums.isna.ir/Default.aspx?NSID=5
&SSLID=46&NID=7271; Rahimi and Abdollahi, 2007).
Since, 10 years ago, the number of people with diabetes has more than doubled
to 285 million and it is, moreover, increasing most rapidly specially in developing
countries. Diabetes isnt pointed as a disease of the idle rich or sedentary
middle-class any longer and it has even become largely a disease of poverty
in developed countries (Tuchman, 2009). Acknowledging
the higher incidence of diabetes and negative effects resulting from it like
chronic complications and socioeconomic detriments and considering the increased
evidence on the association of this disease with exposure to pesticides, investigating
the potential mechanisms by which pesticides as an unavoidable part of the ecosystem
induce or develop diabetes has been valuable more than ever.
Generally speaking, diabetes is the disease of defect in insulin secretion
or responsiveness. Multiple mechanisms by which pesticides can disrupt the release
of insulin or decrease the tissues response to insulin have been proposed
like oxidative/nitrosative stress, inflammatory pathway, mitochondrial dysfunction
and proxisome alteration. Likewise, in some cases their main mechanism of toxicity
or the type of target organ take steps in benefit of developing this disorder,
like perturbation of insulin secretion by organophosphates in pancreatic islets
via cholinesterase inhibition or decreasing metabolic activity of adipocytes
by organochlorines as the most lipophilic pesticides which accumulate in adipose
tissues. Moreover, exposure to pesticides as a stress situation threatening
homeostasis causes alterations in bodys defend axis like immune-neuroendocrine
and autonomic nervous system in favor of hyperglycemia (Karami-Mohajeri
and Abdollahi, 2011; Mostafalou et al., 2011).
However, much is known about the contribution of exposure to pesticides with diabetes and it is no secret that the issue is going to be one of the global health dilemmas, so it needs to be thought decisively.
Although, our understanding of whether and how preventive approaches could
be achieved is still incomplete, but there is some good news of efficacy of
compounds like antioxidants, phsophodiesterse inhibitors and bioscavengers as
prophylactic agents (Rahimi et al., 2005; Hosseini
and Abdollahi, 2012). Besides finding suitable endpoints to evaluate mechanistic
pathways, the importance of clinically accepted measures of diabetes in link
with pesticides should not be forgotten.
As known, the mark of good science is provoking new research directions, so reducing the gap between environmental toxicologists and pesticides formulators might help to meet new approaches in lowering the metabolic disrupting effects of pesticides.
At the core, health promotion in this respect requires a shift in thinking and action by regulatory agencies in order to run more safety tests before introducing a new pesticide to the market.