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Arsenic exposure linked to diabetes

Last Updated: Monday, April 8, 2013 - 19:12

Los Angeles:For the first time scientists have established a link between arsenic exposure in youngsters and development of Type 2 diabetes.

A new study found that higher levels of mercury exposure in young adults increased their risks for Type 2 diabetes later in life by 65 percent.

The study, led by Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington epidemiologist Ka He, is the first to establish the link between mercury and diabetes in humans.

The study paints a complicated nutritional picture because the main source of mercury in humans comes from the consumption of fish and shellfish, nearly all of which contain traces of mercury, reports Science Daily.

Fish and shellfish also contain protein and other nutrients, such as magnesium and omega-3 poly-unsaturated fatty acids, that make them important for a healthy diet.

In the study, published online early in the journal Diabetes Care, the people with the highest levels of mercury also appeared to have healthier lifestyles -- lower body mass indexes and smaller waist circumferences -- than others.

They also ate more fish, which is a possible marker of healthy diet or higher social economic status. Risk factors for Type 2 diabetes include being overweight.

According to He, these findings point to the importance of selecting fish known to have low levels of mercury such as shrimp, salmon and catfish, and avoiding fish with higher levels such as swordfish and shark.

"It is likely that the overall health impact of fish consumption may reflect the interactions of nutrients and contaminants in fish. Thus, studying any of these nutrients and contaminants such as mercury should consider confounding from other components in fish," He and the authors wrote in the study.

"In the current study, the association between mercury exposure and diabetes incidence was substantially strengthened after controlling for intake of LCN-3PUFAs (omega-3) and magnesium," the study noted.


First Published: Monday, April 8, 2013 - 18:39
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