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Acrylamide Exposure Tied to Reduced Insulin Levels

Exposure to acrylamide — present in industrial by-products, cigarette smoke, and a variety of fried or baked foods — can reduce serum levels of insulin, Taiwanese researchers report.

As for the mechanism involved, the authors speculate that acrylamide may have a toxic effect on islet cells.

Dr. Pau-Chung Chen co-investigator stated that, “We presented the first report that daily low-dose acrylamide exposure is associated with both reduced blood insulin and insulin resistance in the general US population.”

Dr. Chen of National Taiwan University College of Public Health, Taipei, and colleagues came to this conclusion after studying data on 1,356 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2003-2004.

Glucose homeostasis was assessed by measurement of plasma glucose, serum insulin, and the homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR). Hemoglobin adducts of acrylamide (HbAA) were used as biomarkers of exposure.

In fully adjusted models, the serum insulin level and HOMA-IR significantly decreased across quartiles of HbAA concentration.

Senior author Dr. Lian-Yu Lin pointed out that, “Since the decrease of HOMA index is a result of decreasing insulin level, it is possible that acrylamide intake might be toxic to islet cells.”

“Whether long-term acrylamide exposure could cause islet cell dysfunction,” said Dr. Lin of the National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, “needs further study.”

Nevertheless, concluded Dr. Chen, “Although the health impact due to this association and the exact mechanism are unknown, this finding reminds us to pay more attention to low dose acrylamide exposure in daily life.”

Diabetes Care 2009;32:2206-2211.