Dr. Victoria Persky, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, received a 4-year award totaling nearly $2.5 million from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) to examine the effects of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) exposure on endogenous hormones and incidence of diabetes. Diabetes affects just over 29 million people in the United States, or 9.3 percent of the total population. Prevalence of total diabetes (both diagnosed and undiagnosed) among all Hispanic/Latino groups is roughly 16.9 percent, compared to 10.2 percent for non-Hispanic whites.
[Photo: Dr. Victoria Persky]
The study, entitled Persistent Organic Pollutants, Endogenous Hormones and Diabetes in Latinos, will build upon the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL). The HCHS/SOL study is an ongoing cohort of 16,415 multiethnic Hispanics in Chicago, San Diego, New York and Miami. “The uniqueness of this study is that it’s the largest prospective cohort study of a diverse Hispanic group in the country,” Dr. Persky noted. Furthermore, the wide variation in both exposures and disease in this population renders it ideal to examine biologic pathways by which POPs could be affecting an increasingly prevalent and costly disease.
“This study will be providing a baseline for environmental risk factors on not just diagnosed diabetes but also pre-diabetes,” Dr. Persky explained. POPs, endogenous thyroid and steroid hormones, and inflammatory markers will be measured in baseline bloods samples from 2,000-3,000 men and postmenopausal women ages 45-74. Associations with subsequent development of diabetes, prediabetes and insulin resistance will be determined at the six-year follow-up. Hormone and immune pathways by which POPs may be affecting glucose regulation will also be examined. Results of the study could be important not only in identifying factors that cause diabetes, but also in designing appropriate intervention strategies.