Hidden DDT contamination of tobacco products may be a missing link in the equation connecting the Korean Genome, Tobacco product smoking, and the emerging Type 2 Diabetes epidemic in Korea.
First, we have data-based hard evidence from lab tests just completed (12/18) that the American tobacco supply appears to be heavily contaminated (see data below), and we are certain based on this and other data that this reflects the global tobacco supply situation.
There is also this:
1. Solid research (cited below) that shows that exposure during fetal development to specific organochlorine pesticides including DDT leads by now-known genetic pathways to increased risk, and increased rates of Type 2 Diabetes in people with the Korean genome.
2. The connection between smoking tobacco products and Type 2 Diabetes among Koreans (cited below) is also well established, but there is no cross-over understanding of the role of pesticides in smoking-related disease.
Without taking the hidden pesticides in tobacco products into account, the relationship between smoking and Diabetes cannot be fully understood, and the specific genetic vulnerabilities of Korean people cannot be accounted for in making health care decisions. With such knowledge, doctors would be better able to treat patients, and reluctant patients would have new evidence-based smoking quitting motivation showing them the specific pesticides in their specific tobacco product brand choice and what those pesticides are doing to their treatment outcome.
3. Other research (cited below) shows that the damaging effects of DDT exposure persist across multiple generations, and that people of Asian ancestry are disproportionately vulnerable to certain specific genetic damage from DDT exposure in previous generations.
Unfortunately the problem of DDT and Diabetes doesn’t stop with the person who is smoking contaminated tobacco today. It appears that even if a person today is not a smoker, and not being exposed to DDT that way, if their mother or maternal grandmother smoked she was undoubtedly exposed to DDT with every puff, and that effect is now known to reach across generations and put exposed people at higher risk of multiple diseases.
This strongly implies that Koreans with Type 2 Diabetes today whose mother’s mother smoked may have inherited the damaged genes that led to their diabetes from a grandmother whose DNA was attacked by the pesticides in her cigarettes 50 years ago.
4. It’s an open secret that Asian tobacco products are heavily contaminated with pesticide residues including DDT and other organochlorine pesticides. Asian health authorities have been struggling for years trying to find a way to stop the tobacco pesticide contamination but the industry has the fix in at every important political and regulatory level in every country including, I’m very sure, in Korea.
5. In this post I will offer links to peer-reviewed research and hard data to demonstrate that this is a possibility worth examining. These pesticides are known contaminants of tobacco products worldwide.
The Most Compelling Evidence
First, here’s new hard data showing the extent of pesticide contamination of American tobacco products. (Notice the multiple endocrine-disruptors.)
Here’s a startling study linking DDT to obesity and diabetes across generations of people, which given the history of smoking in Korea suggests a link to today’s Korean Diabetes epidemic among others.
BMC Medicine 2013 11:228
Ancestral environmental exposures to a variety of environmental factors and toxicants have been shown to promote the epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of adult onset disease. The present work examined the potential transgenerational actions of the insecticide dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) on obesity and associated disease.
Observations indicate ancestral exposure to DDT can promote obesity and associated disease transgenerationally. The etiology of disease such as obesity may be in part due to environmentally induced epigenetic transgenerational inheritance.
At least some portion of the Type 2 Diabetes epidemic among Korean smokers must be due to their genetic vulnerability to organochlorine pesticides like the DDT hidden in the tobacco products they are smoking.
In our recent tests of off-the-shelf American tobacco products for pesticide contamination, 20% of the samples tested revealed a high concentration of DDT. The following study looked at Koreans only but if this pattern is repeated or amplified among tobacco brands smoked by Asian populations, then smoking OC-contaminated tobacco products represents a hidden danger of increased risk for Type 2 Diabetes. This is due to the unreasonably dangerous exposure of smokers and their immediate households to OC pesticides in tobacco product smoke.
This research also has strong implications for Korean-American and in fact all Asian-American youth who disproportionately smoke the highly contaminated brands of tobacco products that are often the only choice available in marginalized Asian-American communities. Obviously Asian youth in America have Asian genomes, which means that they are at heightened risk of transgenerational pesticide-induced disease from smoking contaminated tobacco products.
Another Piece Of The Puzzle
We see that DDT damage crosses generations. Now let’s see what it specifically does to Koreans.
Environ Int. 2010 Jul;36(5):410-4.
Low-dose organochlorine (OC) pesticides have recently been associated with type 2 diabetes in several non-Asian general populations. As there is currently epidemic type 2 diabetes in Asia, we investigated the associations between OC pesticides and type 2 diabetes in Koreans.
Most OC pesticides showed strong associations with type 2 diabetes after adjusting for age, sex, BMI, alcohol consumption, and cigarette smoking.
In this exploratory study with small sample, low-dose background exposure to OC pesticides was strongly associated with prevalent type 2 diabetes in Koreans even though absolute concentrations of OC pesticides were no higher than in other populations. Asians may be more susceptible to adverse effects of OC pesticides than other races.
Notice that this study found the effects of OC pesticides even AFTER smoking was controlled as a factor, which means that the effects of the pesticide contaminants in the tobacco products were masked in the data, but would have spiked the results even more if shown.
Unfortunately multiple research studies show that older Koreans strongly tend to continue smoking after being diagnosed with Diabetes, which means that those smokers are continuing to reinforce the cause of their disease while being treated. I have to also wonder about the cross-interactions between all of the pesticides in what they are smoking and the medications that they are taking to treat the disease.
In other words, unknown to them or their doctors, smoking is continuing to expose them to the OC pesticides that caused their diabetes in the first place, which probably effectively cancels out any positive impact treatment may be having.
Diabetes Care 2010 Dec; 33(12): 2567-2572.
Younger age, lower economic status, heavier smoking habit, lower Charlson Comorbidity Index and comorbid hypertension were identified as factors associated with continued smoking after the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
Older patients and patients with longer diabetic duration were more likely to quit smoking.
Contrastingly, smokers in the lower economic status and heavier smoking habit categories were more likely to continue smoking after the diagnosis.
The economic, social and personal cost burden that the 100% preventable OC pesticide contamination of tobacco products imposes on Asian countries may represent the difference between a viable healthy economy and society and a sickened, low-productivity, low energy society in Asia.
Given the rapidly advancing chemistry of pesticide agents and their increasing impact on the human endocrine system, Asian societies must control this devastating hidden and unregulated poisoning of their people by the international tobacco cartels.
As you can see in these related posts, this issue is by no means confined to people with Asian genomes, not to DDT, nor to Diabetes.
Sweet Cheap Poison At The Bodega
Obesity & Obesogens: The Tobacco Connection
Tobacco Pesticides & Childhood Leukemia