Exposure to Insecticide Linked to Female Obesity

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Exposure to Insecticide Linked to Female Obesity

Researchers at Michigan State University have found that prenatal exposure to DDT, an insecticide commonly used up until the 1970s, may play a role in the obesity epidemic among women.

DDT was banned in 1973 after outcries of it being a highly toxic substance with slow degradation, and its byproducts still remain toxic today in marine life and fatty fish.

Researchers studied a cohort of more than 250 mothers who live along and eat fish from Lake Michigan for their exposure to DDE – which is a breakdown of DDT.

This study analyzed DDE levels in the daughters, ages 20-50 years old, of those women, and whether exposure to the toxin was a cause of obesity.

The study revealed that those with intermediate levels of DDE, compared to the group with the lowest levels, had gained an average of 13 pounds of excess weight.  Those with the highest levels had gained more than 20 pounds. The women who had the highest levels of DDE also consumed the most fish and high fat meats.

Dr. Janet Osuch, one of the lead researchers of the study, stated that “Prenatal exposure to toxins is increasingly being looked at as a potential cause for the rise in obesity seen worldwide…What we have found for the first time is exposure to certain toxins by eating fish from polluted waters may contribute to the obesity epidemic in women.”

Because of these findings, a new line of research may be able to transform how researchers treat – and seek to prevent – obesity, and possibly help create prenatal tests to show which offspring are at higher risk of being overweight.

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