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IL: MWU Researcher: Environmental Pollutant Linked to Diabetes

December 16, 2010

by Jill Blair-Smith

Nearly one in 10 American adults suffer from diabetes and if current trends continue as many as one in three U.S. adults could have diabetes by 2050, according to an analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A researcher at Midwestern University (MWU) in Downers Grove is leading the way in determining potential causes for this disturbing health trend.

According to research conducted by Joshua R. Edwards, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Pharmacology Department, environmental contaminates may play a larger role than originally suspected in the development of diabetes. "My research at MWU focuses on how the environmental contaminant cadmium alters insulin release and is related to diabetes," Dr. Edwards said. Cadmium, an industrial pollutant that is also naturally occurring and is highly toxic to humans, was the subject of recent recalls of drinking glasses and jewelry marketed to U.S. children. "My research is among the first to show that at relatively low levels, cadmium is significantly associated with higher blood glucose levels and impaired insulin release," Dr. Edwards added.

Dr. Edwards will discuss the role of cadmium and other environmental contaminants in the development of diabetes at an upcoming National Toxicology Program workshop on the "Role of Environmental Chemicals in the Development of Diabetes and Obesity" in Raleigh, North Carolina in January. A portion of this meeting will be open to the public. The workshop represents a growing concern by leading scientists and the U.S. government in the potential for environmental contaminates, such as cadmium, to be contributing factors in national health epidemics like diabetes and obesity.

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For more information, please contact:
Jill Blair-Smith