Most of us consider Type 2 diabetes a disease that is caused by bad eating habits and a lack of exercise. Researchers are now looking at environmental factors to determine if they can contribute to the development of the disease. Drinking water and pesticides are among the factors being considered.
How safe is your water? You may know that arsenic occurs naturally in the environment. It is created when minerals from rocks and the soil dissolve. So it makes sense that some of it finds its way into our drinking water. Arsenic has been linked to cancers of the bladder, lungs and skin and to several other medical ailments.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers our water safe from arsenic if the levels are lower than 10 micrograms per liter. Even with the standard in place, approximately 8% of our public water supplies in the US contain higher levels of arsenic than are considered safe.
In a study done led by Dr. Navas-Acien at Johns Hopkins University, data from 788 adults were tested to look for traces of arsenic. What they found was that participants of the study who had type 2 diabetes had a higher level of this toxin in their system (26% higher on average) than those without diabetes. They also found that people with high levels of arsenic in their system were over three times more likely to be diabetic. Researchers thought is that arsenic may impede the body’s natural insulin processes. Dr. Navas-Acien’s findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in August 2008. More research is required to confirm the role of arsenic in diabetes.
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Another possible culprit to the development of diabetes are pesticides. The US National Institute of Health compared diabetes rates in workers responsible for applying pesticides in agricultural communities. The workers exposed to chlorinated pesticides in excess of 100 days (that’s in their entire lifetime) had almost 200 times more risk of developing the disease.
What You Can Do
Filter Your Water. Use a reverse osmosis water filter for your tap water. Softeners and pitcher filters won’t effectively remove traces of arsenic. Go Green. Consider some integrated pest management techniques for keeping your lawn in top shape. You should also swap heavy cleaning chemicals for more environmentally friendly ones. There are many options on the market today. Though it hasn’t been confirmed, environmental factors seem to play a part in the development of type 2 diabetes. Keep yourself and your family healthy now by monitoring your water as well as the chemicals in your home.