A new study finds certain environmental factors, particularly the presence of a pesticide derivative or the chemical PCB, were strongly associated with the development of diabetes. Other factors, such as the nutrient beta-carotene, served a protective role in preventing the disease.

The study applied advanced analytics technology to data from publicly accessible databases, including the Centers for Disease Control's National Health and Nutrition system, and the Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrient Database, among others.

Researchers examined 226 separate environmental factors, including nutrition and exposure to bacteria, viruses, allergens and toxins. They believe the study shows that computational approaches can reveal as much about environmental contributions to disease as about genetic factors. Consequently, their approach could be applied to the study of other conditions, such as obesity, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

The study, "An Environment-Wide Association Study on Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus," is in the May 20 issue of PLoS One from the Public Library of Science, at plosone.org.

--Joseph Goedert

 

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