Pesticide exposure linked to increased heart attack risk in obese women

By Joyeeta Basu

- Last updated on GMT

Pesticide exposure linked to increased heart attack risk in obese women

Related tags Obesity Metabolism Diabetes mellitus

Pesticide exposure could contribute to an increased risk for heart attacks and inflammation in obese premenopausal women, a new study has found.

The endocrine-disrupting chemicals, and not obesity alone, could have a potential role in the later development of heart conditions in such women, according to a report published in Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Some chemicals used in consumer products or manufacturing (eg, plastics, pesticides) have oestrogenic activities; these xenoestrogens… have recently emerged as a new risk factors for obesity and cardiovascular disease​,” said the study's lead author and PhD student Diana Teixeira.

The study showed that premenopausal women with higher concentrations of environmental oestrogens in the fat tissue were more likely to have higher average blood sugar levels, an obesity and diabetes risk factor. Premenopausal women with higher levels of oestrogens in their blood also tended to have more inflammation and were at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

"When higher amounts of these environmental oestrogens collect in the fat tissue, it can compromise the protective effect the body’s natural oestrogen has on a premenopausal woman’s heart health. This leaves women at increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease and inflammation​," said the team.

 “…We found that xenoestrogens are positively associated with markers of impaired metabolism and with CVD risk in younger, premenopausal women,”​ they wrote.

If these findings are reproducible in different populations, it means that as early as possible, any effort to reduce exposure to xenoestrogens would be necessary to decrease the social burden of cardiometabolic disease​.”

Importantly, there was a need for more research on the mechanisms of action of xenoestrogens (which may alter metabolic function), for the prevention and treatment of metabolic disease, they said.The study analysed the levels of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in fat tissue and blood samples from 121 obese Portuguese women who underwent bariatric surgery.

Among the participants, 73 were classified as premenopausal and 48 were postmenopausal. The team tested the participants’ fasting blood glucose and used the Framingham risk score to estimate the 10-year risk of developing heart disease.

These risk factors did not have a statistically significant effect in postmenopausal women.

The team of researchers examined the effects of exposure to polychlorinated pesticides such as DDT. Although DDT was largely used as an agricultural insecticide, it was banned in many countries in the 1970s but it still persists in the environment and food supply.

Pesticides residues in Europe

According to an assessment from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in March, pesticide residues in raw and processed foods clearly exceeded legal limits in 1.5% of European foods in 2013​.

EFSA’s annual analysis of pesticide residues in foods sold in 27 EU member states, Iceland and Norway found 54.6% of foods had no detectable residues at all, while 1.5% had levels high enough to warrant sanctions against the food business operators responsible, it said.


Source: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism

doi: 10.1210/jc.2014-4136

 “Inflammatory and Cardiometabolic Risk on Obesity: Role of Environmental Xenoestrogens”

Authors: D. Teixeira, et al

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