Annals of DDT: Study implicates DDT in human obesity and diabetes


Press report from the University of California at Davis (unedited here):

Exposure of pregnant mice to the pesticide DDT is linked to an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and related conditions in female offspring later in life, according to a study led by the University of California, Davis.

White mouse looking at camera

Caption from UC-Davis: The study is the first to show that developmental exposure to DDT increases the risk of females later developing a cluster of conditions that include increased body fat, blood glucose and cholesterol.

The study, published online July 30 in the journal PLOS ONE, is the first to show that developmental exposure to DDT increases the risk of females later developing metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions that include increased body fat, blood glucose and cholesterol.

DDT was banned in the United States in the 1970s but continues to be used for malaria control in countries including India and South Africa.

Scientists gave mice doses of DDT comparable to exposures of people living in malaria-infested regions where it is regularly sprayed, as well as of pregnant mothers of U.S. adults who are now in their 50s.

“The women and men this study is most applicable to in the United States are currently at the age when they’re more likely to develop metabolic syndrome, because these are diseases of middle- to late adulthood,” said lead author Michele La Merrill, assistant professor of environmental toxicology at UC Davis.

The scientists found that exposure to DDT before birth slowed the metabolism of female mice and lowered their tolerance of cold temperature. This increased their likelihood of developing metabolic syndrome and its host of related conditions.

“As mammals, we have to regulate our body temperature in order to live,” La Merrill said. “We found that DDT reduced female mice’s ability to generate heat. If you’re not generating as much heat as the next guy, instead of burning calories, you’re storing them.”

The study found stark gender differences in the mice’s response to DDT. Females were at higher risk of obesity, Type 2 diabetes and cholesterol, but in males, DDT exposure did not affect obesity or cholesterol levels and caused only a minor increase in glucose levels.

A high fat diet also caused female mice to have more problems with glucose, insulin and cholesterol but was not a risk factor for males. The sex differences require further research, the authors said.

The study was funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Co-authors include Emma Karey and Michael La Frano of UC Davis; John Newman of UC Davis and the U.S. Department of Agriculture; and Erin Moshier, Claudia Lindtner, and Christoph Buettner of Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

About UC Davis

UC Davis is a global community of individuals united to better humanity and our natural world while seeking solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. Located near the California state capital, UC Davis has more than 34,000 students, and the full-time equivalent of 4,100 faculty and other academics and 17,400 staff. The campus has an annual research budget of over $750 million, a comprehensive health system and about two dozen specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and 99 undergraduate majors in four colleges and six professional schools.

Additional information:

In the past five decades, the case that DDT and its daughter metabolites damage human health in subtle but extremely destructive ways constantly mounted. Perhaps Rachel Carson was right to urge much more study of the stuff, in Silent Spring.  Perhaps the National Academy of Sciences was right when it called for a rapid phasing out of DDT use in 1970, after noting it had been one of the greatest lifesaving pesticides ever known.

In 1972 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency prohibited use of DDT in agriculture.  Use in day-to-day indoor extermination had ended earlier; bedbugs had become almost wholly immune to DDT by 1960.  The U.S. ban was predicated on damage to wildlife, not human health.  The order allowed U.S. DDT manufacturers to continue to make the stuff for export to other nations.  Exports continued from 1972 to 1984, when the Superfund required manufacturers to clean up any pollution they may have caused.

6 Responses to Annals of DDT: Study implicates DDT in human obesity and diabetes

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    Rebuttal of Tim Lambert by “Africa Fighting Malaria?”

    You’re right to wonder what they know. They know how to grab money from tobacco companies to run anti-WHO propaganda campaigns, but they can’t seem to find their way to doing anything about malaria that doesn’t line their own pockets first.

    See here:
    https://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2010/06/11/does-africa-fighting-malaria-actually-fight-malaria-format-fix/

    And here:
    https://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2010/07/06/africa-fighting-malaria-claims-to-be-fighting-malaria/

    And here:
    http://crookedtimber.org/2014/07/14/zombie-ddt-ban-myth-reanimated/

    And here:
    http://www.newrepublic.com/article/104858/smoked-out

    And here:
    http://www.salon.com/2008/05/15/steve_milloy_and_rachel_carson/

    You appear badly poisoned by tobacco smokescreen money propaganda. Laying off those sources for a few months may restore some of your powers of discernment.

    Or you may try these as antidotes:

    => The statement from the Pine River meetings on DDT and health at Alma College in 2009 (published, you’ll note, in a peer-review journal): https://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2009/05/05/alma-conference-on-ddt-and-human-health-calls-for-ddt-phase-out/

    => The Materials Safety Data Sheet on DDT and DDE and breast cancers: http://envirocancer.cornell.edu/FactSheet/Pesticide/fs2.ddt.cfm

    Happily, the latter accounts for several studies of breast cancer and notes that links to breast cancer from DDT exposures are inconsistent, and it appears, as EPA thought in 1972, that DDT is at worst a weak carcinogen in humans; these are probably the most salient passages of that report:

    Does DDT cause other types of cancer?

    In 1991, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified DDT as a possible human carcinogen, based on the strong evidence of cancer in laboratory animals and the limited evidence of higher cancer risk in humans exposed to DDT. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classified DDT as a Class B2 probable human carcinogen.

    DDT can cause cancer in laboratory animals including rats, mice or hamsters. Tumors have been found in the liver, adrenal glands, lung, or lymphatic tissues of laboratory animals fed or injected with DDT. In contrast, there is little evidence that DDT can cause cancer in monkeys or dogs.

    There is some evidence of a higher risk of lung or pancreatic cancer in men who worked in DDT manufacturing plants. A greater number of deaths from liver cancer and multiple myeloma (cancer of cells in the bone marrow) was seen in a study of male pesticide applicators who had sprayed DDT for mosquito control. A higher risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma, or leukemia has been reported in some, but not all studies of male farm workers exposed to DDT. However, when researchers took into account the exposure to other types of pesticides, there was no longer a higher risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in farmers who used DDT on crops or livestock. In another study, researchers saw more liver cancer in the white men and women who had higher levels of DDE in their fat. But, unlike other studies, they did not observe higher levels of pancreatic cancer or multiple myeloma. Hence, while there is suggestive evidence of higher cancer risk in DDT-exposed populations, the strength of the evidence is weakened by the lack of consistent results. More studies are needed to evaluate cancer risk of those who were exposed to DDT through their occupations.

    Do we know how DDT may cause other types of cancer?

    Scientists are continuing to explore and identify the ways DDT may affect cancer risk. Here are some examples. DDT can help activate certain cancer genes, called oncogenes. However, DDT and DDE do not appear to be mutagens. Mutagens are substances that can cause small changes in our genetic code (DNA) that may lead to cancer. Clastogens are substances that can physically break strands of DNA. These changes in DNA may increase the risk of developing a cancerous tumor. Most studies show that DDT and DDE are not clastogenic, though a few studies have shown some evidence of clastogenicity.

    The immune system defends the body against harmful cancer-causing substances. Chemicals that suppress the immune system may increase susceptibility to cancer. There is evidence that DDT and DDE can suppress the immune system. However, researchers have not fully evaluated whether the suppression of the immune system leads to increased cancer risk. Researchers are interested in determining if leukemia or lymphomas observed in workers exposed to DDT may be related to a suppression of the immune system.

    The more troubling health effects from DDT and its daughters, to me, come from the endocrine disruption, for which there is clear evidence.

    In a careful analysis, one would have to say that the spotty claims of safety to humans on DDT do not justify overturning the rules based on ecological damage to myriad other species, especially since DDT has been in declining utility since the 1950s. EPA’s rule was solid, as the recovery of eagles, brown pelicans, osprey and peregrine falcons has shown. DDT continues to kill birds, decades after its use was stopped. You and I continue to pay millions to clean up old DDT dumps created by irresponsible chemical manufacturers (more than 25% of Superfund sites include DDT contamination, and some are doozies). Bed nets are more effective than DDT in preventing malaria.

    The case for DDT grows weaker, daily.

    Like

  2. Ed Darrell says:

    Shooter, enamored of junk science sites and a pusher of the DDT hoaxes, said:

    My, you answered! I don’t suppose you…quote mined, did you?

    Maybe it’s the end of a long year, or maybe you were just at the end of a long day. It’s difficult for many to confront their unreasonable, anti-science biases, I’m sure — but I don’t deserve that kind of snark.

    Here, ask for one of these for Christmas; your snark needs tuning:

    Snark tuner

    https://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/just-the-gift-for-neo-con-trolls-a-snark-tuner/

    Like

  3. Ed Darrell says:

    Not sure why you find autism amusing at any point. You may want to be more circumspect about what disabilities you try to poke fun at.

    Like

  4. Shooter says:

    @Ed

    My, you answered! I don’t suppose you…quote mined, did you?

    “In fact, DDT has a lot of toxicological dangers. We know it’s carcinogenic to mammals, a matter that is only dismissable by those who forget that humans are mammals. We know DDT and its daughters scramble the sex organs of critters in utero, and make it difficult to impossible for mothers to properly incubate offspring.”

    Evidence? The sources you listed don’t even confirm this; in fact, it’s all conjecture. The PDF linked was a pretty good read – though it never proves the mass-extinctions that you are constantly talking about. But I’ll humour you and peek for myself.

    “Recently, Longnecker et al. (2005) investigated 1717 pregnant women enrolled in the U.S. Collaborative Perinatal Project (United States, 1959-1965) for the relationship between stored serum level of DDE and fetal losses in previous pregnancies. Odds of previous fetal loss were examined in relation to DDE level in logistic regression models. Women were grouped according to their DDE level : <15µg/L; 15-29 µg/L; 30-44 µg/L; 45-59 µg/L; and 60+ µg /L. When compared with women whose DDE level was <15�µg/L, the adjusted odds ratios of fetal loss per 60 µg/L increase was 1.4 (95% CI: 1.1, 1.6). The results were consistent with an adverse effect of DDE on fetal loss, but were inconclusive owing to the possibility that previous pregnancies ending in fetal loss decreased serum DDE levels less than did those carried to term."

    Note: 'inconclusive'.

    "Venners et al (2005) examined the association of preconception serum total DDT (sum of DDT isomers and metabolites) concentration and subsequent pregnancy losses in 388 newly married, DDT/DDD/DDE 9 nonsmoking, female textile workers in China between 1996 and 1998. Daily urinary human chorionic gonadotropin was assayed to detect conception and early pregnancy losses, and pregnancies were followed to detect clinical spontaneous abortions. There were 128 (26%) early pregnancy losses in 500 conceptions and 36 (10%) spontaneous abortions in 372 clinical pregnancies. The subjects were grouped in tertiles by preconception serum total DDT
    concentration (group 1: 5.5-22.9 ng/g; group 2: 23.0-36.5 ng/g; group 3: 36.6-113.3 ng/g). Odds ratios were adjusted for maternal age, education, body mass index perceived life stress, tea drinking habit, occupational exposures to dust and noise, and exposure to passive smoking from husband. When compared to the referent group 1, group 2 had adjusted relative odds of early pregnancy losses of 1.23 (95% CI: 0.72, 2.10), and group 3 had adjusted odds of 2.12 (95% CI: 1.26, 3.57). The relative odds of early pregnancy losses associated with a 10 ng/g increase in serum total DDT were 1.17 (95% CI: 1.05, 1.29). Spontaneous abortions following clinical detection of pregnancy were not associated with serum total DDT." 'Were not associated with DDT.'

    "Preterm Delivery
    Torres-Arreola and colleagues (2003), in a case-control study of 233 women in maternity hospitals in Mexico City, found no association between serum DDE and preterm delivery. The median serum DDE level was 0.19 µg/g for the case group, and 0.15 µg/g for the control group"

    'No association'.

    "In a study of 912 infants in the USA, maternal serum DDE (median = 13µg/L) was not associated with birth weight (Rogan et al. 1986).

    DDT/DDD/DDE 10
    Bjerregaard et al. (2000) in a study of 178 newborn babies in Greenland found no association between maternal serum DDE ( mean =5 µg/L) and birth weight.
    In a case-control study among Indian women (Siddiqui et al. 2003), raised maternal serum DDE was associated with increase risk of uterine growth restriction. The mean serum DDE of the case group (n=30) and the control group (n = 24) were 9 µg/L and 6 µg/L, respectively. In a study of 197 singleton infants from two Ukraine cities, Gladen et al. (2003) found no association between maternal milk DDE (2.5 µg/g fat) and birth weight."

    "Karmaus et al (2004) identified 168 offspring who were born after 1968 and had maternal exposure information from the Great Lakes Fish Eater Study in Michigan. Maternal PCB and DDE serum measurement closest to the date of delivery was used for the analysis. The maternal DDE and PCB serum concentrations were categorized as follows: 0 ≤ 5 µg /L, 5 ≤ 15 µg /L, 15 ≤ 25 µg /L, ≥ 25 µg /L. Estimated adjusted mean birth weight were controlled for gender, birth order, gestational age, date of delivery as well as maternal age, height, education, and smoking status. The authors found a reduced birth weight for the offspring of mothers who had a PCB concentration ≥ 25 µg /L (adjusted birth weight = 2,958 g, p = 0.022).The birth weight of offspring was increased in women with higher DDE concentrations when controlling for PCBs; however, this association was not statistically significant."

    From the source linked to me:

    http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/ddt_addendum.pdf

    It was either statistically insignificant, or that there were other factors involved with the side effects. The researchers did not include them. In any case: your own sources contradict you.

    "The evidence against DDT being “harmless” has been a massive mountain since the early 1960s. DDT was not banned for being harmful to humans, though — EPA thought the evidence too scanty for such action in 1972. DDT was banned for killing other creatures, entire ecosystems, including beneficial bug-killing wildlife and domestic animals."

    Name one creature or animal that was killed, or an ecosystem that was destroyed. Until I can see real, statistical evidence that directly says DDT was responsible for mass ecosystem collapse or the death of organisms. The egg shell thinnings were from a lack of calcium, of which studies at that time confirmed. It was not from DDT. You would think that, as a science enthusiast, all options would be considered, but no. It is DDT and Carson was right, and the skeptics are just a bunch of mongers.

    "Science 2.0 sadly has gone the route of “if we take the contrarian stand, it’s more sciency.” Standing contrary to the evidence is not a wise way to run a planet." – Ironic, as you didn't even read the articles you just linked. Even the official statement on Carson said that pesticides should be regulated – which is common sense – but also that DDT was one of the most researched chemicals out there, on both animals and people. In any case, the primary sources contradict your statements and views, even when they say so outright!

    "Science 2.0 sadly has gone the route of “if we take the contrarian stand, it’s more sciency.” Standing contrary to the evidence is not a wise way to run a planet." – That's a very unscientific view. Evidence should stand on its own, regardless if it's contrarian or not. How can you claim to be for the 'truth', or facts when you refuse to accept the other's position? Science is about skepticism. If Science2.0 is wrong, prove them wrong, without using dramatic hyperbole.

    Am I quote mining? Am I going to get the Vox Day treatment?

    Here's one from the WHO, it has quite a bit of info:

    http://www.who.int/ipcs/assessment/DDT.pdf

    "It’s easy to scoff at careful studies that find slight effect to Americans today; tougher to scoff when considering the weight of evidence, and the questions of what happens to people exposed to DDT that isn’t 40 years old." – That's another common argument: 'This thing is bad even though we don't know it's bad but ban it anyways because it'll be bad IN THE FUTURE!' Where IS the weight of evidence that shows DDT has any affect on human health, when human health has dramatically improved? Plus, the 'weight of evidence' that you use is also 40-years-old. I guess we can both scoff at each other, eh?

    If the weight of evidence shows that DDT causes a bunch of illnesses, where is the data? You can't just say 'oh, there's no data because it hasn't happened yet', because that is a cop-out. It's a non-scientific argument.

    I also checked into the 'mass extinctions' caused by DDT, and found that they all repeated the same tune, no weighty evidence, and certainly no stats. No other explanations were given to bird or raptor deaths; it was all DDT, which alone should raise red flags. Apparently, it did not with you.

    In fact, this: https://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2008/05/02/ddt-linked-to-testicular-cancers-in-next-generation/

    – and the studies it links doesn't even PROVE that it IS DDT causing the cancers; they all say they 'might'; ergo, they don't know. In fact, it all sounds so very pay-walled. Did they use control groups? Was the data replicated? Were other factors considered?

    Answer: no. They had a vested interest in the end result. That is not science.

    "Rachel Carson’s careful citations in her book Silent Spring have been reinforced by a recent study that shows a more direct link between DDT and human cancers, contrary to claims by lobbyists, junk science purveyors and practitioners of voodoo science."

    'Careful citations'? She used the same ones over and over again, making it look like she had more. Not to mention, she wasn't a chemist, she was a marine biologist, with a good way of using prose and hyperbole to spin a tale.

    The recent study proves nothing. If anything is the junk science purveyors, it is this, and you. You're not a scientist; you're a communications guy. If anything comes out of the environmentalist cabal it's automatically accepted, without a hint of skepticism. That is not science. That is belief.

    When your own sources contradict you, when they say the opposite of what you are trying to pass off, that's not just lying: it's hilarity.

    Here's a rebuttal of Tim Lambert:

    http://www.fightingmalaria.org/article.aspx?id=1591

    Oh, right. What do these guys now? They're part of the junk science cabal. The DDT damage is there, you'll see in 40+ years, even though I can't cite a single study proving otherwise!

    In addendum, this near-religious worship of Rachel Carson and the anti-DDT stance is, frankly, junk science. The studies you cite often say there is no problem with DDT, or that with DDE, there isn't enough data and the samples not large enough to pose a serious threat to human populations. It is no different than the Chernobyl scare and how hundreds of thousands of people would be born deformed, and they did not. The fears here are just the same as anti-nuclear fears.

    Human obesity and diabetes also have NOTHING to do with DDT; genes play a larger role than something that has been banned for years. Other sources at play? No, it's just DDT.

    That, comrade, is voodoo science. I wonder, are you going to accuse me of quote mining? I did, after all, cite you.

    It really is sad when the actual sources contradict your claims. It seems you are the quote miner here.

    I see Tim Lambert and Rachel Carson as serious as Rosa Parks was on black-white relations and how MLK wasn't a plagiarist.

    BTW, you should do some fact-checking. It'd do you some good.

    Oh, well. What am I going to get out of a Greenie? Nothing.

    Like

  5. Ed Darrell says:

    Be sure not to miss this one, Shooter:

    https://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2014/02/12/texas-researchers-tease-out-correlation-between-ddt-exposure-and-late-onset-alzheimers/

    In fact, DDT has a lot of toxicological dangers. We know it’s carcinogenic to mammals, a matter that is only dismissable by those who forget that humans are mammals. We know DDT and its daughters scramble the sex organs of critters in utero, and make it difficult to impossible for mothers to properly incubate offspring.

    The evidence against DDT being “harmless” has been a massive mountain since the early 1960s. DDT was not banned for being harmful to humans, though — EPA thought the evidence too scanty for such action in 1972. DDT was banned for killing other creatures, entire ecosystems, including beneficial bug-killing wildlife and domestic animals.

    Science 2.0 sadly has gone the route of “if we take the contrarian stand, it’s more sciency.” Standing contrary to the evidence is not a wise way to run a planet.

    See the Pine River Statement on human health effects: https://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2009/05/05/alma-conference-on-ddt-and-human-health-calls-for-ddt-phase-out/ (follow the links, of course).

    See CDC’s ATSDR toxicology profile:
    o Portal: http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/ToxProfiles/TP.asp?id=81&tid=20
    o Human health effects: http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/ToxProfiles/tp35-c3.pdf
    o Addendum on more recent human reproduction studies (pre-2002) http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/ddt_addendum.pdf (Note that DDT’s deleterious health effects don’t affect most people — except those exposed to amounts such as those used to fight malaria, in Indoor Residual Spraying, the only way DDT is really effective other than coupled with bednets, against malaria).

    It’s easy to scoff at careful studies that find slight effect to Americans today; tougher to scoff when considering the weight of evidence, and the questions of what happens to people exposed to DDT that isn’t 40 years old.

    Like

  6. Shooter says:

    http://www.science20.com/science_20/ddt_linked_to_obesity_in_female_mice_long_after_exposure-141621

    Tackles it nicely.

    Lol, ‘autism’? Quite amusing from a rat study.

    Like

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