Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pesticides May Cause U.S.A. Insulin Resistance and Obesity Trends


Modern Big Tobacco-Agra/Monsatan Crops

Crops are generally coated with pesticides for the last 30-50 years. Are they toxic? Pesticides are upregulated into the food chain via consumption (corn, soy) by feedlot livestock and poultry. Let's not forget tobacco (cigarettes, snuff, cigars, etc). 'Tobacco is a pesticide-intensive crop. With nearly 27 million pounds of pesticides (including insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, and suckercides) applied to the U.S.-grown crop from 1994 to 1998, it ranks SIXTH in terms of the amount of pesticides applied per acre. The tobacco industry regards pesticides as essential to tobacco production, stating that “the crop could not be produced economically without them”.'

Additionally pesticides are employed in municipalities (public schools, parks, government land) and personal home use (termites, ant control, weeds control, lawns, etc). Although pesticides do not taste, smell or look toxic, they are not benign and without metabolic dysregulation consequences.

New studies in PubMed are cropping (pun intended) up in number pointing directly to insulin resistance, obesogenic, neurologic and inflammatory damage secondary to this broad group of pervasive chemicals known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs). They are difficult to avoid as once in the soil, air or bodies of water, fish, birds and animals, they typically fail to degrade and significantly impact the environment.

The researcher Alavanja states 'Over 1 billion pounds of pesticides are used in the United State (US) each year and approximately 5.6 billion pounds are used worldwide (1). In many developing countries programs to control exposures are limited or non-existent. As a consequence; it has been estimated that as many as 25 million agricultural workers worldwide experience unintentional pesticide poisonings each year (4). In a large prospective study of pesticide users in the United States, the Agricultural Health Study, it was estimated that 16% of the cohort had at least one pesticide poisoning or an unusually high pesticide exposure episode in their lifetime (5).

Although attempts to reduce pesticide use through organic agricultural practices and the use of other technologies to control pests continue, exposure to pesticides occupationally, through home and garden use, through termite control or indirectly through spray drifts and through residues in household dust, and in food and water are common (6). The US Department of Agriculture has estimated that 50 million people in the United States obtain their drinking water from groundwater that is potentially contaminated by pesticides and other agricultural chemicals (7, 8). Children from 3-6 years old received most of their dermal and non-dietary oral doses from playing with toys and while playing on carpets which contributed the largest portion of their exposure (9-12).'

U.S.A. Obesity Trends With Pesticide Use

Guess what?

Pesticide use on crops grown in the South (tobacco) and Mid-West (corn, wheat, soy) trends well with U.S.A. obesity patterns [hat tip: LePine MD]. Above is the trend of obesity that starts mid-1980s then grows exponentially each few years. Maps are from Lim et al and BFRSS data.

Smart people in Korea (Lim et al) report that 'There is an apparent overlap between areas in the USA where the herbicide, atrazine (ATZ), is heavily used and obesity-prevalence maps of people with a BMI over 30. Given that herbicides act on photosystem II of the thylakoid membrane of chloroplasts, which have a functional structure similar to mitochondria, we investigated whether chronic exposure to low concentrations of ATZ might cause obesity or insulin resistance by damaging mitochondrial function.'

Pesticides Kill Pests, Including Our Bug-like Mitochondria

It's therefore not surprising to read about the toxic effects of pesticides on pests whose networked pathways overlap almost precisely with our own cells. Atrazine is a mitochondrial toxin, and our mitochondria are the sole energy generators and powerhouses whether the substrate is glycogen, glucose or fatty acids.

Mitochondrial Dysfunction Causes Fatness and Insulin Resistance (IR)

'A close association between mitochondrial dysfunction and insulin resistance is well established [1]–[3]. In in vitro studies, we found that artificial induction of mitochondrial dysfunction induced insulin resistance [4], [5].' This is discussed by Lim et al. He and his colleagues performed an experiment on rodents. They fed low levels of atrazine to rats then examined lab parameters for insulin resistance (IR). What happened? The higher the dose of atrazine, the higher the obesity and insulin resistance. Atrazine was associated with mitochondrial dysfunction, higher visceral (organ) fat deposition, higher blood glucoses and decreased energy metabolism.

Another group of researchers, Ruzzin et al, tested a similar hypothesis. They fed crude Atlantic salmon oil to rodents and examined IR parameters. They state 'POPs accumulate in the lipid fraction of fish, and fish consumption represents a source of POP exposure to humans (Dougherty et al. 2000; Hites et al. 2004; Schafer and Kegley 2002). Therefore, certain European countries have dietary recommendations to limit the consumption of fatty fish per week (Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition 2004).' They discovered similar insulin resistant results when they exposed fat cells in vitro to a POP mixture that mimicked the relative abundance of contaminants found in crude salmon oil. Insulin signalling was broken and impaired.


BRFSS, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System www.cdc.gov/brfss

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCNW-NgYZ2s [Obesity trend map and cdc slides]

http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/obesity/trend/maps/obesity_trends_2006.pdf [BRFSS raw data by state and year]

Pesticides Use and Exposure Extensive Worldwide. Michael C.R. AlavanjaRev Environ Health. 2009 Oct–Dec; 24(4): 303–309.

The Tobacco Industry and Pesticide Regulations: Case Studies from Tobacco Industry Archives. Patricia A. McDaniel, Gina Solomon, Ruth E. Malone. Environ Health Perspect. 2005 December; 113(12): 1659–1665.

Chronic Exposure to the Herbicide, Atrazine, Causes Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Insulin Resistance. Soo Lim, Sun Young Ahn, In Chan Song, Myung Hee Chung, Hak Chul Jang, Kyong Soo Park, Ki-Up Lee, Youngmi Kim Pak, Hong Kyu LeePLoS ONE. 2009; 4(4): e5186.

Persistent Organic Pollutant Exposure Leads to Insulin Resistance Syndrome. Jérôme Ruzzin, Rasmus Petersen, Emmanuelle Meugnier, Lise Madsen, Erik-Jan Lock, Haldis Lillefosse, Tao Ma, Sandra Pesenti, Si Brask Sonne, Troels Torben Marstrand, Marian Kjellevold Malde, Zhen-Yu Du, Carine Chavey, Lluis Fajas, Anne-Katrine Lundebye, Christian Lehn Brand, Hubert Vidal, Karsten Kristiansen, Livar FrøylandEnviron Health Perspect. 2010 April; 118(4): 465–471.

Effect of Endocrine Disruptor Pesticides: A ReviewWissem Mnif, Aziza Ibn Hadj Hassine, Aicha Bouaziz, Aghleb Bartegi, Olivier Thomas, Benoit RoigInt J Environ Res Public Health. 2011 June; 8(6): 2265–2303.


Nigel Kinbrum said...


Ever thought about moving to Europe? The EU has stricter food regulations than the US and they're better-enforced.

I'm getting slimmer, so there can't be *that* much pollutants in my food.

Best, Nige

LeonRover said...


Sensible and well presented post.

The use of plant pesticides in food production is a major difference between traditional hunters, hunter-gatherers, herders or horticulturalists (KItavans) and other large scale producers.

It certainly is a difference together with the presence in drinking water and air of other pollutants of an industrial nature.

It is just food: it's also wsater and air.


Aaron Blaisdell said...

This is such an important theme to highlight. I commented to Randy Nesse after his recent talk at the UCLA Evolutionary Medicine month event that anthropogenic toxins may be a lurking silent contributor to many of our modern health woes. Dan Blumstein, one of the conference organizers and a field animal behaviorist told me that the marmot population he studies in Colorado has been showing increasing signs of obesity and related health problems over the years. No, they haven't started popping pop tarts and downing super big gulps. Their diet hasn't changed, but something has!

Hiit Mama said...

WOW! Two posts this week! What a treat for me. This post is so interesting to me. I've been discussing mitochondrial dysfunction off and on with my facebook group but we've not yet made the pesticide connection. I'm sharing this. Thanks lady!

Dr. B G said...


I'd love to live in the EU!!! Much less sheeple there and they protect their food and culinary heritage with pride. You're as hawwt as your car.


During the last 4.5 billion years of earth's history living things just have not been exposed to the onslaught of new chemical structures that are now for the first time being pharmacologically created and biochemically manipulated in sophisticated laboratories... [from gnolls.org]
Virgin geology and physiology!! To HG and all beings for time eternal...


SCARY AND FRIGHTENING. Colorado is inland but fed by rivers, no? It's a fractal I guess... insects, bees, frogs, marmots, fish... us.

Pesticides are just the tip of the iceberg. I failed to yet talk about pheromones. Synthetic pheromones are used to 'handle' and 'control' pests and insects. Unfortunately these are cross-kingdom signalling chemicals just as estrogens are ubiquitious in both plant and animal kingdoms. The bees (and bats) are the foundation of pollinating harvests and orchards... Bees are hypothesized to be adversely affected by these pheromonal pesticides.


*tap* *tap* *tap*

I'm still waiting for our MINDBLOWING co-written hormone post and your brainaic sexxxxy contributions....!!!

No pressure.

Hey I'll ck out! If you haven't read Nick Lane, he's the ROCKSTAR. Literally he climbs rocks and delves into the depths of mitochondrial science and evolution... Gilbert Ling is cool too -- he handles the issue of water that results from oxidation.


lightcan said...

Europe is better, but not that perfect. fex. Animals are fed GM grains. Fish stocks are not left alone to regenerate. They're thinking about bringing CAFOs to England.

at last, somebody is starting to take these issues seriously. Until now, I have just heard, 'Nah, humbug.' Only Jenny mentioned chemicals in relation to diabetes.
And nobody around me cares about organic food for their babies and children, even educated, well-off people who could afford it, it always makes me feel like a weirdo.

Dr. B G said...


*sigh* Yes, it's all frustrating. Jenny is great.

Good to hear from you! Hope you are doing well!!

Much love and cheer,

J. Stanton said...

The pesticide/herbicide/pollutant connection has been on my list of "issues to investigate that probably contribute to metabolic dysfunction" for a long time, but I've been looking more towards xenoestrogens.

Thank you for bringing to light these intriguing (and disturbing) connections, and for the references!


Dr. B G said...

Hey Stanton,

Looking forward to your thoughts ;)

I just posted on pesticides on the Domythang post...

Body Burden — The Pollution in Newborns

A benchmark investigation of industrial chemicals, pollutants and pesticides in umbilical cord blood [128 chemicals found in 10 random newborn's cord blood!!!]

Partition of Environmental Chemicals between Maternal and Fetal Blood and Tissues
Environ. Sci. Technol., 2011, 45 (3), pp 1121–1126

In 15 sample sets, we measured a total of 87 environmental chemicals, almost all of which were detected both in maternal and fetal tissues.... Concentrations of pentachlorbenzene, γ-hexachlorocyclohexane, and several polychlorinated biphenyl congeners with low chlorination were higher in fetal samples and showed poor correlation with maternal levels...
Cadmium, lead, mercury, and selenium were all (!!!) detected in fetal samples, but only mercury showed close correlations among concentrations in different matrices.


Dr. Funkenstein said...

Dr. BG,

As always, it is a pleasure (and an education) to read your work.

Dave Asprey recently wrote about a related topic -- the role of herbicides in promoting mycotoxins in our food supply:


I hope that (despite the toxic stew of chemicals enveloping us all) you are happy and well.

Dr. Funkenstein

Exceptionally Brash said...

Looking at the obesity map makes me wonder what they are putting on cotton crops.

Dr. B G said...

Thanks Brash,

Demyth #8 -- arsenic and mercury; rice and fish are O-H-S-O-H-E-A-L-T-H-Y . . .

I didn't have time to go into this but I'm sure you heard of the arsenic in rice, no?

Arsenic-based herbicides (like MSMA, DMA, MAA) used on cottonseed crops in the Cottonbelt (Missippi) have drift into other crops including soybean and rice. They are used to control troublesome annual grasses, broadleaf grasses and perennial grasses (nutsedge, johnson).

Arsenic was a problem in 1977 per this study below (arsenic in rice 0.16 ppm) and obviously it still is especially considering that rice bran syrup is used as a common sweetener now (baby formula, Jaminent's PHD-diet and many vegan-approved diets). Even though sources state 'organic and no pesticides' the soil is contaminated from previous use on cotton crops or simply DRIFT.

Some people have more genetic susceptibility to arsenic. It's like mycotoxins -- a significant subpopulation of people are gonna be REALLY affected by arsenic (and other metals) and the majority won't seem affected until a higher threshold is met.




(a) Rice consumption contributes to arsenic exposure in US women, Diamond et al PNAS.

(b) Mercury in US women associated with fish consumption, Asian ethnicity, higher wealth status, coastal proximity, NHANES 1999-2004

Dr. F,

Ditto. Thanks for you kind words.

I missed that link! Asprey has overcome an impressive of list of health issues and lost 100 lbs of fat. He explained some of what worked and the biohacking for me:

He advised a book he told me about that you might like, Shoemaker's Overcoming Mold.


Exceptionally Brash said...

Good for me that I am no longer eating that "safe" starch. I ate lots of brown rice, mostly from Japan, when I was macrobiotic. I wonder if it is any better, contaminant-wise than Lundberg's.

Dr. B G said...

I dunno about Japan... Fukushima has unleashed a ton of radioactivity that can't be ignored.


Nigel Kinbrum said...

@Grace: *blushes* You're pretty hawwt yourself! :-D

@Everybody else: Nowhere is perfect (unless you're rich enough to buy an island somewhere nice).

However, I'm getting on a bit* (I won't say how old I am, as I'm looking for a girlfriend and I don't want my real age showing up on the interwebs!) and I'm managing to get slimmer. I never loosen my belt. I only tighten it. If I over-indulge at a party it's uncomfortable, so I don't.


*A few people have told me that I look about 48, so 48 I am! ;-p

Dr. B G said...


Your ageless swagger is even hawwwter! *ha ahaaa!*


Exceptionally Brash said...

Oh, I love the TMI!! I would be wary of both Japanese rice and seaweed at this point, because of the radiation. But frankly, I have eaten enough brown rice for a lifetime! I do have an occasional tablespoon or so at my fave Thai place.

TedHutchinson said...

I don't want to disillusion Nige but there is an awful lot of pesticide/herbicide used on crops in Lincolnshire. It's the only way they can manage the land without employing lots of labour. So the machinery gets more and more ginormous somewhat larger than the narrow lanes can safely accommodate and heavier than my house (which was build before foundations were thought a good idea)can bear.
Details of specific amounts used can be found here UK PESTICIDE USAGE STATISTICS
and to compare with the USA this map gives an idea

and this compares many more countries

Dr. B G said...


Yeah, one pot of rice lasts a week at our house. We try to get in all the colors too (carotenoids, lycopene, etc)!


Thank you much for the update!!! I know Europe was successful initially at thrwarting GMO but even that I think succumbed eventually. India is not doing great on that front either.

A significant amount of Whole Foods products are GMO now. Sad!!!