PCB Pollutants Could Cause Gestational Diabetes

| February 25, 2017

Certain pesticides can block melatonin receptors and play havoc with our body clocks and blood sugar levels, as I explained in my last blog post. And this is just one way in which artificial chemicals in the environment have been linked to diabetes and metabolic syndrome. I wrote here how hormone-disrupting pollutants can lead to weight gain, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Now, a study has found that some of these chemicals could also cause gestational diabetes in pregnant women (for more about this condition see here).

Scientists at the University of Crete (Greece) measured the levels of several persistent organic pollutants in the blood of 939 women during the first three months of pregnancy, 68 of whom developed gestational diabetes at around the sixth month.1 Analysis of the results showed that women with medium to high levels of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) in their blood were almost four times as likely to develop gestational diabetes as those with low levels.

PCBs are cancer-causing, hormone-disrupting toxins, whose manufacture has now been banned. But environmental contamination remains widespread, because these chemicals are not easily broken down in nature.

While it is not possible to avoid exposure to PCBs entirely, you can reduce your exposure through the food chain. Oily fish is the food most likely to be contaminated with PCBs – which is a shame, since it is also a great source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Pregnant women should limit their intake to one or two portions of oily fish a week and take a PCB-free omega-3 supplement. For further information see here.

At the same time as minimising your intake, you can also encourage the removal of PCBs from your body. Studies have shown these toxins are removed in sweat, so regular saunas can help – although they are not recommended during pregnancy. PCBs can also be detoxified in your liver by a compound called glutathione. You can boost levels of this by taking a supplement of N-acetyl cysteine. And a high-fibre diet could also help to bind up and remove PCBs via the gut.

In my next blog post, I’ll be telling you how an extract made from the seeds of the European ash tree could help you to keep your blood sugar levels under control.

Wishing you the best of health,

Martin Hum
PhD DHD Nutritionist
for Real Diabetes Truth

Bear in mind we are not addressing anyone’s personal situation and you should rely on this for informational purposes only. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.


1. Vafeiadi M, Roumeliotaki T, Chalkiadaki G et al. Persistent organic pollutants in early pregnancy and risk of gestational diabetes mellitus. Environ Int. 2017; 98:89-95.


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Category: Diabetes Risks

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