In an article published on June 27, 2018, in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Research, Adela Jing Li and colleagues from the Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health, Albany, NY, U.S., report on a case-control study looking at possible associations of urinary levels of 23 different phenolic compounds, including “parabens, antimicrobials, bisphenols, benzophenones,” with type 2 diabetes. The study included 54 diabetic patients and 47 control subjects enrolled in Saudi Arabia. An association with increased risk for diabetes was found for several parabens and bisphenols and one benzophenone compound. The authors estimated the following “order of chemicals associated with diabetes”: 4-Hydroxybenzophenone (4-OH-BP, CAS 1137-42-4) > bisphenol A (BPA, CAS 80-05-7) > bisphenol F (BPF, CAS 620-92-8) > ethylparaben (EtP, CAS 120-47-8) > 4-hydroxybenzoic acid (4-HB, a metabolite of parabens, CAS 99-96-7) > methylparaben (MeP, CAS 99-76-3) ≈ propylparaben (PrP, CAS 94-13-3). 

Yishuang Duan and colleagues from the Ministry of Education Key Laboratory of Pollution Processes and Environmental Criteria, College of Environmental Science and Engineering, Nankai University, Tianjin, China, studied the association between urinary concentrations of eight different bisphenols and type 2 diabetes in a Chinese population. The results of their case-control study, involving 251 diabetic subjects and 251 controls, were published on September 24, 2018, in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Pollution. Both bisphenol S (BPS, CAS 80-09-1) and bisphenol AF (BPAF, CAS 1478-61-1) were found to be positively associated with diabetes, while a “nonlinear association” was observed for BPA. Regarding the latter, the scientists observed “significant positive associations” in the lower concentrations range for both BPA levels and the total bisphenol concentrations. Notwithstanding the significance of their findings, the authors caution that “this case-control study . . . cannot provide evidence of causality, which need[s] to be investigated in prospective studies.” 

In a review published on October 12, 2017, in the peer-reviewed journal Current Opinion in Toxicology, Marcelo Bonini and Robert Sargis from the University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, U.S., discussed “some of the latest concepts and mechanisms by which environmental exposures may contribute to rising rates [of diabetes].” They emphasize that “understanding the contribution of toxicants to diabetes risk as well as improved understanding of their mechanisms of action offer unique opportunities to modulate diabetes risk via targeted therapeutics or public policy interventions to reduce and remediate exposures.” 


Jing Li, A., et al. (2018). “Urinary concentrations of environmental phenols and their association with type 2 diabetes in a population in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.” Environmental Research 166:544-552. 

Duan, Y., et al. (2018). “Association of urinary concentrations of bisphenols with type 2 diabetes mellitus: A case-control study.” Environmental Pollution (published September 24, 2018). 

Bonini, M.G., and Sargis, R.M. (2018). “Environmental toxicant exposures and type 2 diabetes mellitus: Two interrelated public health problems on the rise.” Current Opinion in Toxicology 7:52-59.