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Mercury Exposure Increases Diabetes Risk

Posted Apr 01 2013 12:00am

Diabetes link By Teresa Conrick

The damage that mercury can cause to a body, continues to grow.  This recent study, Mercury Exposure in Young Adulthood and Incidence of Diabetes Later in Life: The CARDIA trace element study shows us the insidious nature of this poisonous toxin. Mercury compounds are known for their acute effects but less has been studied on long term effects.  This study did just that and the results are alarming, yet not surprising to those of us who have been sounding our own alarm about mercury's danger here, at Age of Autism.

Some caveats from the abstract:

-   Laboratory studies suggest that exposure to methylmercury at a level similar to those found in fish may induce pancreatic islet β-cell dysfunction.

-   We examined whether toenail mercury levels are associated with incidence of diabetes in a large prospective cohort.

-    A prospective cohort of 3,875 American young adults, aged 20-32 years, free of diabetes in 1987 (baseline), were enrolled and followed six times until 2005.

-    A total of 288 incident cases of diabetes occurred over 18 years of follow-up.

-    ....toenail mercury levels were positively associated with the incidence of diabetes.

The full study is only available with a subscription/purchase so I was able to read that for more information.  The authors do describe how mercury is a toxin with widespread effects in both the organic and inorganic form.  They also commented that it is fish consumption and amalgam fillings that are the major sources of exposure.  They further elaborated that the mercury in fish consumption are at levels that can induce oxidative stress.  That seems very significant and they do say that is the reason for the pancreatic islet b-cell dysfunction. They actually showed in a mouse that even low levels of mercury can cause pancreatic islet b-cell dysfunction.  This should be national news as the devastating health effects have been shown.

That got me thinking.  My daughter, who has an Autism diagnosis, also has been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder by antinuclear antibody testing.  Further labs showed GAD 65 was high.  Gad 65 is 65-kD isoform of glutamic acid decarboxylase, which is a major autoantigen in type 1 diabetes. This is a devastating marker for a possible future diabetes diagnosis.  Let's look at both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes to clarify:

 Type 1 Diabetes:

1.  Type 1 was formerly called juvenile onset diabetes.

2.  It usually occurs typically before the age of 20.

3.  Individuals with type 1 diabetes are usually thin.

4.  The cause of type 1 diabetes is that the pancreas, the organ that secretes insulin, is destroyed by autoantibodies.

5.  People with type 1 diabetes always need insulin, either injected or through an insulin pump.

6.  GAD65, one of the primary target antigens of the autoimmune disease process, seems to play a pathogenic role in the development of type 1 diabetes

7.  Type 1 diabetes occurs in about 10-15 percent of cases here in the United States.

Type 2 Diabetes:

1.  Type 2 was formerly called adult onset diabetes.

2.  Individuals are usually heavy and often diagnosed after the age of 35.

3.  The cause of type 2 diabetes is a medical condition called "insulin resistance."

4.  To treat type 2 diabetes, usually lifestyle changes are necessary, like diet and exercise.

5.  Oral medications may be needed, and it is not uncommon for someone with type 2 diabetes to eventually need insulin.

6.  Type 2 diabetes is associated with heart disease.

7.  Type 2 diabetes accounts for about 85 to 90 percent of the cases in the United States.

Megan is not the only one with GAD65 antigens and an Autism diagnosis as I had written about that l  last year:

  Presence of GAD65 autoantibodies in the serum of children with autism or ADHD.  


"Antibodies against glutamic acid decarboxylase 65 (GAD65) have been detected in the serum of patients with several neurological disorders....GAD65 antibodies were detected in the serum of 15% of children with autism (N = 20), 27% of children with ADHD (N = 15) and of none of the controls (N = 14).....Serum anti-GAD65 antibodies may be a common marker of subgroups of patients with autism and ADHD. Reactions of serum antibodies with the cells in the cerebellum in these patients suggest direct effects on brain function. The subgroup of children with autism and ADHD that tests positive for GAD65 antibodies needs further characterization in a larger study."

Are there connections here?  Could there be a higher incidence of diabetes in those identified as having an Autism diagnosis?  This study shows that could be the case:

"Our data suggest that the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder in children with type 1 diabetes attending the Diabetes Clinic at The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, may be greater than that in the general population....... reported findings that suggest that an imbalance of Th1- and Th2-like cytokines may be important in the pathogenesis of autism."

Megan, like many of her peers diagnosed with Autism, had Thimerosal in most of her childhood vaccines.  Is there a concern for her now in an autoimmune path?

From a 2009 study, Heavy metals, islet function and diabetes development

"According to the report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is a 49% increase in prevalence of diabetes in Americans during 1991 to 2000.  Diabetic population now is about 150 million globally and the World Health Organization (WHO) predicts it will double by 2025  Thus, attention is needed to investigate and prevent the possible factors which may induce hyperglycemia or diabetes."

Then a few paragraphs away......"Mercury is present in three forms in the environment, including elemental or metallic mercury, inorganic mercury and organic mercury....Thimerosal (ethylmercurithiosalicylic acid) is a mercury-containing compound and a preservative for the vaccine and biological products for more than 70 years. Thimerosal dissociates as 49.5% ethylmercury by weight and thiosalicylic acid and may possess higher cytotoxicity on renal cells. Thus it must be noted that mercury is a common environmental pollutant, and imposes a rather high risk to our health."

WHO did look at mercury ,  and with the seal of approval from the American Academy of Pediatrics, decided that mercury is a bad thing, unless it is in a vaccine.  Looking at this mechanism of fish mercury causing diabetes should cause a new vote on this issue, as vaccine mercury may have the same process --

"The reactive oxygen species(ROS) have been demonstrated to promote the progression of islet cells dysfunction.  Because of anti-oxidative defense systems in pancreatic islet cells are weakness, islet cells are highly sensitive to oxidative stress ." 

Organic or inorganic mercury compounds are well known to induce cellular damage in various cell types, such as renal cells, astrocytes, lymphoma cells, human gingivival fibroblast cells, alveolar epithellial cells, and pancreatic islet cells. Except for organic and inorganic forms of mercury toxicity, many studies focus on the vaccine preservative-thimerosal.  The ethylmercury was the metablite of thimerosal.  According to previous studies, ethylmercury could be converted to the inorganic form of mercury to induce cell membrane damage and DNA breakage.  In primary cultures of mouse pancreatic islet cells, mercuric chloride altered the intracellular calcium homeostasis and insulin secretion.  A report has shown that Minamata disease patients, who suffered from organic mercury poisoning from 1986 to 1994 (mean age: 63 years), had significantly elevated urine glucose levels.  The authors suggested that increased mercury levels in Minamata disease may enhance an incidence in diabetes.  The toxicity of mercury in islets is highly related to oxidative stress.

More evidence of both organic and inorganic mercury causing pancreatic islet dysfunction
Inorganic mercury causes pancreatic beta-cell death via the oxidative stress-induced apoptotic and necrotic pathways   

Mercuric Compounds Induce Pancreatic Islets Dysfunction and Apoptosis in Vivo 

The Role of Phosphoinositide 3-Kinase/Akt Signaling in Low-Dose Mercury–Induced Mouse Pancreatic β-Cell Dysfunction In Vitro and In Vivo


Methylmercury induces pancreatic beta-cell apoptosis and dysfunction. 

Consider too that last year, we were inundated with the media reporting: Maternal Obesity, Diabetes Associated With Autism, Other Developmental Disorders 

or in more scientific terms from the AAP:  " Maternal metabolic conditions and risk for autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders "  Their conclusion
"The prevalence of obesity and diabetes among US women of childbearing age is 34% and 8.7%, respectively. Our findings raise concerns that these maternal conditions may be associated with neurodevelpmental problems in children and therefore could have serious public health implications."

Depressing and does seem to put blame to the mothers rather than look for an environmental cause.  No talk of why mothers might develop diabetes and/or obesity and if there is a way to stop this.  In light of the research on mercury inducing pancreatic islet β-cell dysfunction, it would be important to look not only at fish consumption, neighborhood mercury [Proximity to point sources of environmental mercury release as a predictor of autism prevalence ] exposure, dental mercury amalgam fillings, but also mother's exposure to Thimerosal in flu shots.  If the mother was exposed to mercury, could she then develop diabetes and her child then develop oxidative stress, a hallmark of Autism?

" Mercury can accumulate in mitochondria and causes granular inclusions, which are visible with a scanning electron micrograph (Brown et al, 1985).  Oxidative stress occurs in vitro and in vivo from both organic and inorganic mercury via their high affiity for binding thiols (sulfur-containing molecules."

It has been danced around, the issue of ALL mercury being able to cause pancreatic islet β-cell dysfunction or diabetes.  People, the consumers of fish, dental amalgam fillings and the recipients of influenza and other vaccines given around this globe, have a right in knowing this and to decline buying them.

Teresa Conrick is Contributing Editor to Age of Autism.

Posted by Age of Autism at April 17, 2013 at 5:45 AM in Teresa Conrick Permalink

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