In a previous newsletter I discussed sugars and the major role they play in obesity and diabetes. Since then I’ve been reading more about the epidemic growth of diabetes and the connection in eating meat. Recent research confirms a link to Type 2 diabetes from traces of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and pesticides found in factory-farmed meat and fish.
Most of us are aware of the cancer risks from PCBs and many of the toxic pesticides being used in factory farms across the U.S., and now we’re discovering that these PCBs and pesticides may also be causing diabetes. A new peer-reviewed study published in Diabetes Care found a strong link between diabetes onset and a group of dangerous industrial chemicals known as “persistent organic pollutants” (POPs), many of which have been banned in the U.S. for years. These POPs degrade slowly, thus being “persistent,” and so they continue to be found in our food today.
PCBs play the most significant role in causing the unhealthy effects from a class of highly toxic chemicals widely used as industrial coolants before being banned in 1979. The main U.S. manufacturer of PCBs is Monsanto, better known perhaps for their creation of the controversial genetically-modified (GMO) seeds which are banned in Europe.
In the study, the researchers identified a group of 725 diabetes-free Swedes and tracked them for 5 years, studying the levels of POPs in their blood. Of those in the study, 36 contracted Type 2 diabetes, and these 36 had significantly higher levels of POPs in their blood. Evidence of a link between toxic chemicals in food and Type 2 Diabetes is growing in the scientific community.
How are these toxic chemicals still present and causing serious health problems decades after being banned? POPs accumulate in the fatty tissue of animals and transfer to the animals that eat them, including humans who eat meat and fish. In industrial animal farming, livestock eats feed that contains animal fat, which keeps POPs in the food chain. Feed made of animal by-products is cheaper to produce, thus it continues to be used as the main source of food for livestock.
Farmed salmon contains significant levels of POPs, especially PCBs. Science (2004) found PCB levels in farmed salmon was 7 times higher than in wild salmon and advised consumers to limit consumption of farmed salmon. Given all of these findings and the emerging link to diabetes, it seems appropriate to limit our consumption of factory-farmed meat and fish.