The harmful impact of Pesticides is not only confined to environmental exposure but harms the body’s metabolic response by increasing cardiovascular disease risk and inflammation in premenopausal women. The study was published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism and investigated the impact of exposure to polychlorinated pesticides such as DDT.
Although DDT has been banned in the U.S. the environmental impact lingers due to the cumulative exposure of these pesticides and it remains widespread in the environment and food supply. DDT was one of the first chemicals recognized as a hormone disrupting chemical interfering with the endocrine system. DDT and related pesticides are known as environmental estrogens because they can mimic and interfere with the function of the hormone estrogen.
The study population consisted of 121 obese women who underwent bariatric surgery at S. João Hospital in Porto. Among the participants, 73 were classified as premenopausal and 48 were postmenopausal, and the study analyzed the amount of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in fat tissue and blood samples.
“After the body breaks down DDT along with similar pesticides, chemical remnants called metabolites accumulate in women’s fat tissue,” said one of the study’s authors, Diana Teixeira, PhD student of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Porto in Porto, Portugal. “When higher amounts of these environmental estrogens collect in the fat tissue, it can compromise the protective effect the body’s natural estrogen has on a premenopausal woman’s heart health. This leaves women at increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease and inflammation.”
The study findings revealed that among premenopausal women, women with higher concentrations of environmental estrogens in their visceral fat tissue from the belly were more likely to have higher average blood sugar levels. Among premenopausal women, those with higher levels of environmental estrogens in their blood tended to have more inflammation and faced a greater risk of cardiovascular disease.
“Our findings show that endocrine-disrupting chemicals tend to aggravate complications of obesity, including inflammation and cardiovascular disease risk, in premenopausal women,” Teixeira said. “Measuring environmental estrogen levels may help physicians identify women who are at risk of developing cardiovascular and metabolic disease so they can take preventative action.”
Diana Teixeira, Diogo Pestana, Cristina Santos, Luísa Correia-Sá, Cláudia Marques, Sónia Norberto, Manuela Meireles, Ana Faria, Ricardo Silva, Gil Faria, Carla Sá, Paula Freitas, António Taveira-Gomes, Valentina Domingues, Cristina Delerue-Matos, Conceição Calhau, Rosário Monteiro. Inflammatory and Cardiometabolic Risk on Obesity: Role of Environmental Xenoestrogens. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2015; jc.2014-4136 DOI: 10.1210/jc.2014-4136