Chemicals commonly found in gardening products and insecticides could increase your risk for diabetes, according to a new study.
The study, conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, found that the synthetic chemicals in insecticides bind to the receptors that control the body’s biological clock, which disrupts circadian rhythms. This in turn increases the risk of diabetes and other metabolic diseases, according to the researchers.
"This is the first report demonstrating how environmental chemicals found in household products interact with human melatonin receptors," said lead researcher Dr. Margarita L. Dubocovich, Ph.D., in a statement.
"No one was thinking that the melatonin system was affected by these compounds, but that's what our research shows.”
Dubocovich, a professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Buffalo, said there is a delicate balance between the release of insulin and glucose in the pancreas at specific points during the day.
If that balance is disrupted over a long period of time, there’s a significant increase in the risk of developing diabetes.
The two chemicals studied in her research are carbaryl, the third most widely used insecticide in the United States, and carbofuran, a toxic insecticide.
"We found that both insecticides are structurally similar to melatonin and that both showed affinity for the melatonin, MT2 receptors, that can potentially affect glucose homeostasis and insulin secretion," said Marina Popevska-Gorevski, one of the authors on the study and a scientist with Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, who worked in Dubocovich's lab while earning her master's degree at UB.
"That means that exposure to them could put people at higher risk for diabetes and also affect sleeping patterns."
Previous research has shown the negative effect these chemicals can have on the body, but never before has a direct link to melatonin been made.
Scientists involved with the study argue that new environmental assessments should be made on each of these chemicals.
Dubocovich says that new federal regulations should be considered due to melatonin’s ability to affect the body in a variety of ways.
In the meantime, health experts advise limiting exposure to household chemicals and pesticides and opt for safer alternatives made from natural compounds.
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