New research suggests that exposure to polychlorinated pesticides such as DDT, not just obesity alone, is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and inflammation in premenopausal women. The findings have been published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Higher amounts of metabolites in the fat tissue after the breakdown of pesticides in the body can compromise the protective effect the body’s natural estrogen has on cardiovascular health in premenopausal women. In the study, fat tissue and blood samples from 121 obese women who underwent bariatric surgery were analyzed for endocrine-disrupting chemicals like DDT and similar pesticides. The patients’ fasting blood glucose and cholesterol were also assessed.

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Among the premenopausal women, having higher concentrations of environmental estrogens in their visceral fat tissue from the belly increased the risk of also having higher average blood sugar levels; they also were more likely to have greater inflammation and an increased risk of CVD on the Framingham scale.

These results indicate that endocrine-disrupting chemicals like polychlorinated pesticides can exacerbate complications of obesity (including inflammation and CVD risk) in premenopausal women. Measuring environmental estrogen levels could assist clinicians in identifying women at risk of developing CVD and metabolic disease, stated Diana Teixeira, one of the study authors.

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