Researchers have decoded the link between obesity and the presence of certain pollutants in the environment.
Scientists from the University of Granada in Spain proved that subjects who present higher levels of persistent organic pollutants in their organism also suffer from higher cholesterol and triglycerides levels, irrespective of the gender, age, and place of residence or smoking habits of participants in the survey.
This research has analysed the levels of pollutants accumulated in adipose tissue (fat) in nearly 300 men and women. The substances analysed, known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs), can remain in the environment for years, even decades, without degrading.
Lead author Juan Pedro Arrebola said that humans are exposed to POPs mainly through diet. Besides, POPs accumulate gradually in body fat, and this is the reason why the median levels in our study give us an idea of an individual's accumulated exposition over a number of years.
Arrebola claimed that in general they found that people with higher levels of POPs were quantitatively more obese and also showed higher levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, all of them regarded as important risk factors for cardiovascular disease, although these relations were complex and they did not always show linear patters.
Arrebola noted that they believe that the results are not just the consequence of a higher intake of food by obese people as there is evidence that human exposure to certain chemical substances called "obesogenic" could favour the growth and proliferation of adipocytes (fat cells) and provoke therefore an increase in body fat.
Arrebola concluded that they suspect besides that certain environmental pollutants could also provoke alterations in cholesterol and triglycerides levels and therefore contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease.
The study is published in the prestigious journal Environmental Pollution.