A new study warns that exposure to synthetic chemicals, commonly found in insecticides and garden products, may disrupt human circadian rhythms and can put you at higher risk for diabetes and sleeping patterns.
Researchers from the University at Buffalo in the US found that these insecticides bind to the receptors that govern our biological clocks and adversely affect melatonin receptor signaling, creating a higher risk for metabolic diseases such as diabetes.
The findings, published in journal Chemical Research in Toxicology, indicate that using predictive computational modeling and in vitro experiments with cells that express human melatonin receptors, they found that carbamates selectively interact with a melatonin receptor. That interaction can disrupt melatonin signaling and alter important regulatory processes in the body.
“This is the first report demonstrating how environmental chemicals found in household products interact with human melatonin receptors,” said Margarita L. Dubocovich senior author from UB.
The study focuses on two chemicals, carbaryl and carbofuran, which have been banned for application on food crops for human consumption since 2009 and still they are used in many countries and their traces persist in food, plants and wildlife.
“We found that both insecticides are structurally similar to melatonin and that both showed affinity for the melatonin, MT2 receptors, that can potentially affect glucose homeostasis and insulin secretion,” said co-author Marina Popevska-Gorevski.
“That means that exposure to them could put people at higher risk for diabetes and also affect sleeping patterns,” Popevska-Gorevski added.
The results suggest that there is a need to assess environmental chemicals for their ability to disrupt circadian activity, something which is not currently being considered by federal regulators.
“By directly interacting with melatonin receptors in the brain and peripheral tissues, environmental chemicals, such as carbaryl, may disrupt key physiological processes leading to misaligned circadian rhythms, sleep patterns and altered metabolic functions increasing the risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes and metabolic disorders,” Dubocovich explained.
She explained that there is a fine balance between the release of insulin and glucose in the pancreas at very specific times of day, but if that balance becomes disrupted over a long period of time, there is a higher risk of developing diabetes.