Saturday, May 7, 2011

Diabetes is a 'time bomb' in the Arctic

Jane George in Nunatsiaq Online: Diabetes is a ticking “time bomb” in the Arctic, says a public health expert at this week’s conference on climate change and pollution in the Arctic in Copenhagen. That’s because the persistant organic pollutants found in the meat and blubber of marine mammals, like pilot whales, beluga and narwhal, are linked to the development of diabetes, said Philippe Grandjean from the University of Southern Denmark and the Harvard School of Public Health.

These man-made pollutants originate far to the south, where they’re used in agriculture and industry. But they’re widely found in the Arctic. Previous studies have shown that these pollutants can impair the intelligence, reflexes and immune systems of children. Now, new research from the Faroe Islands also links these POPs to diabetes later in life.

The increasing prevalence of adult onset or type 2 diabetes, a chronic disease that occurs when the body can’t process the sugars in food properly, has been linked primarily to obesity and lack of exercise. Depending on its severity, diabetes can lead to blindness, kidney failure, heart disease and sometimes even death.

Grandjean’s study, detailed in the May edition of Epidemiology, found that elderly Faroese with a life-long diet high in pilot whale meat and blubber run a much higher risk of developing diabetes, “in some cases more clearly in women.”…

From the Robert N. Dennis collection of stereoscopic views, "Our Alaskan Sisters up in the Klondike Country," around 1898

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