The Environment’s Chemicals Harden Arteries

Those with diabetes and pre-diabetes metabolic syndrome are more vulnerable to atherosclerosis and environmental toxins can compound this problem.

environmental toxins exacerbate atherosclerosis in pre diabetesToxic chemicals in the environment have long been a source of health concerns. There are many current legal chemical compounds that are wreaking havoc on our health, but even chemicals that have been made illegal are still impacting human health.

Many chemicals that are known to be toxic are illegal and have been removed from the market, but these substances can remain in the environment for a long time. Examples of these organic chemical-pollutants include dioxins, PCBs, and certain pesticides. These chemicals are fat-soluble and can remain in the body for long periods of time potentially accumulating in fat found in blood vessel walls among other places.

A study*, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, established a link between atherosclerosis, also known as “hardening of the arteries,” and blood levels of these long-lived organic environmental toxins. The researchers measured the circulating levels of the above group of chemical compounds in 1,016 Swedes that were 70 years of age. Atherosclerosis in the carotid artery was measured using ultrasound imaging demonstrating a connection between increasing levels of environmental toxicants and atherosclerosis by showing physical signs of fat accumulation in blood vessel walls in those study participants with increased levels of environmental toxins.

In addition, many legal organic compounds have been implicated in disrupting our endocrine system.  The endocrine system is responsible for the hormones in our body. A lot of research is currently looking at the effect of these endocrine-disrupting chemical compounds on the development of obesity.  Stay-tuned for a future post on the topic of “environmental obesogens.”

*Lind PM, van Bavel B, Salihovic S, Lind L, 2011 Circulating Levels of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and Carotid Atherosclerosis in the Elderly. Environ Health Perspect doi:10.1289/ehp.1103563

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About Robert Creighton

Dr. Creighton is a podiatrist and foot surgeon with over 26 years in podiatric practice treating thousands of patients afflicted with the physiological, physical, and psychological side effects and complications of diabetes and pre-diabetes metabolic syndrome. He believes these disorders present a pressing public health concern that need to be more actively addressed in a multidisciplinary way. Dr. Creighton graduated from what is now the Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine after receiving his undergraduate degree in Biology. He is certified by the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery, a member of the American Public Health Association, an American College of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer and a Member of the American Nutrition Association.

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