CMU Assistant Professor Ming-Chieh Li and Research Team from Harvard University Published Breakthrough Research Findings on the International Journal Environmental Research
Date：September 25, 2019
Dr. Ming-Chieh Li, Assistant Professor of China Medical University (CMU) College of Public Health, cooperated with research team from Harvard University and found that higher concentration ofβ-carotene in the blood helps alleviate the insulin resistance effect caused by plasticizer “Bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate” (DEHP), namely the main symptom of prediabetes. This finding was published on the journal Environmental Research and it received high attention from the international society.
Epidemiological studies have confirmed that many types of plasticizer exposure are related to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is the main symptom of prediabetes, and plasticizer DEHP is one of the most important risk factors. The international research team of Dr. Li found out that β-carotene helps alleviate the insulin resistance caused by DEHP, which means it can alleviate the main symptom of prediabetes. Besides, animal experiments have found that taking antioxidants helps alleviate the insulin resistance caused by DEHP as well.
Dr. Li explained, “Our team adopted the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), and apply the new statistical model-Bayesian kernel machine regression (BKMR) to analyze the effects of various plasticizers on insulin resistance. We found that although the concentration of many plasticizers in urine is related to insulin resistance, DEHP has the closest relationship with insulin resistance. After excluding the effect of other types of plasticizers, the higher the concentration of DEHP in urine, the more severe the insulin resistance. There is a dose-dependent relation.”
In addition, the research team has tested several common nutrients with antioxidant efficacy, and discovered that the higher the concentration ofβ-carotene in the blood, the less the insulin resistance caused by DEHP. This finding shows thatβ-carotene may exert protective effect on insulin resistance caused by DEHP, while no similar effects were seen in other antioxidants.
“Our research analysis is the first epidemiological study that discoveredβ-carotene helps alleviate the insulin resistance caused by DEHP. However, what we’ve done is a cross-sectional study, so more research of different generations is needed for further verification”, said Dr. Li, “Although β-carotene helps alleviate the insulin resistance caused by DEHP, it is best to avoid plasticizers to keep a good health condition.”