Health Effects of Lifetime Exposure to Food Contaminants

Summary

Principal Investigator: PHILIPPE ADAM GRANDJEAN
Abstract: DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Toxic effects to the nervous system may become detectable only after latent a period when the deficits become unmasked as a result of age-related degenerative processes. This hypothesis would take a long time to test in prospective studies, and retrospective assessment of prenatal exposure is bound to be seriously imprecise. This epidemiologic conundrum will now be resolved in the Faroe Islands, where prenatal exposure to methylmercury (MeHg) may be estimated, because the MeHg exposure primarily originated from ingestion of whale meat. Local catches of whale pods varied substantially between islands and from year to year, and dissemination of whale meat was difficult until about 1950, when more advanced transportation between the islands and refrigeration became available. A subject's potential exposure to MeHg prenatally can therefore be classified from the detailed whaling data for the pregnancy period at the place of birth. The Faroese have a very high intake of seafood, but their cardiovascular mortality is nonetheless higher than elsewhere in Scandinavia, and Parkinson's disease is about twice as common as expected. We will therefore examine two groups each consisting of about 250 men and women, who were all born around 1935, when variation in whale catches was the greatest. Matched by sex and age, one group's place of birth will be communities with great availability of whale, and the second group's place of birth will be communities without. Each subject will be approximately 70 years at the time of the study and will undergo a series of neurobehavioral and cardiovascular function tests. Postnatal exposure to MeHg and to polychlorinated biphenyls and related contaminants will be assessed by detailed questionnaire and by analysis of appropriate exposure biomarkers. In addition, essential nutrients from seafood, such as n-3 fatty acids and selenium will also be measured in blood samples. The effects of prenatal and/or postnatal neurotoxicant exposures will be determined after confounder control in statistical analyses that will include structural equation models. These results will provide evidence on long-term health implications of developmental and postnatal exposures to these neurotoxicants, which are widely present in freshwater fish and seafood, and the possible compensatory effects of concomitant intakes of essential nutrients. This study will provide unique evidence on adverse health effects of prenatal contaminant exposure as they appear at an advanced age. The results may therefore provide new information that could very likely have an impact on the preventive efforts and standard-setting of the EPA and other regulatory agencies in the U.S and elsewhere.
Funding Period: 2006-09-30 - 2010-07-31
more information: NIH RePORT

Top Publications

  1. ncbi The delayed appearance of a mercurial warning
    Philippe Grandjean
    Department of Environmental Medicine, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
    Epidemiology 19:10-1. 2008
  2. pmc Increased serum concentrations of persistent organic pollutants among prediabetic individuals: potential role of altered substrate oxidation patterns
    Kristine Færch
    Steno Diabetes Center, Niels Steensens Vej 2, DK 2820 Gentofte, Denmark
    J Clin Endocrinol Metab 97:E1705-13. 2012
  3. pmc Persistent organic pollutants and type 2 diabetes: a prospective analysis in the nurses' health study and meta-analysis
    Hongyu Wu
    Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA
    Environ Health Perspect 121:153-61. 2013
  4. ncbi High latitude and marine diet: vitamin D status in elderly Faroese
    Christine Dalgård
    Department of Environmental Health, Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, JB Winslowsvej 17, 2nd Floor, 5000 Odense C, Denmark
    Br J Nutr 104:914-8. 2010
  5. pmc Marine food pollutants as a risk factor for hypoinsulinemia and type 2 diabetes
    Philippe Grandjean
    Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
    Epidemiology 22:410-7. 2011
  6. pmc Mercury exposure and risk of cardiovascular disease in two U.S. cohorts
    Dariush Mozaffarian
    Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Brigham and Women s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
    N Engl J Med 364:1116-25. 2011
  7. pmc Vitamin D status in relation to glucose metabolism and type 2 diabetes in septuagenarians
    Christine Dalgård
    Institute of Public Health, Department of Environmental Medicine, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
    Diabetes Care 34:1284-8. 2011
  8. pmc Application of computational systems biology to explore environmental toxicity hazards
    Karine Audouze
    Center for Biological Sequence Analysis, Department of Systems Biology, Technical University of Denmark, Lyngby, Denmark
    Environ Health Perspect 119:1754-9. 2011
  9. pmc Methylmercury exposure and adverse cardiovascular effects in Faroese whaling men
    Anna L Choi
    Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA
    Environ Health Perspect 117:367-72. 2009

Scientific Experts

Detail Information

Publications9

  1. ncbi The delayed appearance of a mercurial warning
    Philippe Grandjean
    Department of Environmental Medicine, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
    Epidemiology 19:10-1. 2008
    ..The delayed release of the 1971 results therefore reminds us as epidemiologists of our obligation, even in the presence of scientific uncertainty, to call attention to preventable risks...
  2. pmc Increased serum concentrations of persistent organic pollutants among prediabetic individuals: potential role of altered substrate oxidation patterns
    Kristine Færch
    Steno Diabetes Center, Niels Steensens Vej 2, DK 2820 Gentofte, Denmark
    J Clin Endocrinol Metab 97:E1705-13. 2012
    ..There is a need for a better understanding of the potential role of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes...
  3. pmc Persistent organic pollutants and type 2 diabetes: a prospective analysis in the nurses' health study and meta-analysis
    Hongyu Wu
    Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA
    Environ Health Perspect 121:153-61. 2013
    ..Prospective data regarding persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D) are limited, and the results for individual POPs are not entirely consistent across studies...
  4. ncbi High latitude and marine diet: vitamin D status in elderly Faroese
    Christine Dalgård
    Department of Environmental Health, Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, JB Winslowsvej 17, 2nd Floor, 5000 Odense C, Denmark
    Br J Nutr 104:914-8. 2010
    ..Thus, even in a population with a high intake of marine food, the northern latitude causes a low vitamin D status. Efforts to improve vitamin D status in this population are warranted...
  5. pmc Marine food pollutants as a risk factor for hypoinsulinemia and type 2 diabetes
    Philippe Grandjean
    Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
    Epidemiology 22:410-7. 2011
    ..This concern was examined in a cross-sectional study of elderly subjects from a fishing population with elevated contaminant exposures from seafood species high in the food chain...
  6. pmc Mercury exposure and risk of cardiovascular disease in two U.S. cohorts
    Dariush Mozaffarian
    Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Brigham and Women s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
    N Engl J Med 364:1116-25. 2011
    ..Beneficial effects of the ingestion of fish and selenium may also modify such effects...
  7. pmc Vitamin D status in relation to glucose metabolism and type 2 diabetes in septuagenarians
    Christine Dalgård
    Institute of Public Health, Department of Environmental Medicine, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
    Diabetes Care 34:1284-8. 2011
    ..Vitamin D deficiency is thought to be a risk factor for development of type 2 diabetes, and elderly subjects at northern latitudes may therefore be at particular risk...
  8. pmc Application of computational systems biology to explore environmental toxicity hazards
    Karine Audouze
    Center for Biological Sequence Analysis, Department of Systems Biology, Technical University of Denmark, Lyngby, Denmark
    Environ Health Perspect 119:1754-9. 2011
    ..Computer-based modeling is part of a new approach to predictive toxicology...
  9. pmc Methylmercury exposure and adverse cardiovascular effects in Faroese whaling men
    Anna L Choi
    Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA
    Environ Health Perspect 117:367-72. 2009
    ..Methylmercury (MeHg), a worldwide contaminant found in fish and seafood, has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular mortality...