Polychlorinated biphenyl concentrations in adipose tissue as determinants of abdominal obesity in the elderly


Elvira Vaclavik Brauner, Ole Raaschou-Nielsen, Zorana J. Andersen, Jytte Halkjaer, Kim Overvad, Anne Tjonneland, Steffen Loft

Aim / Background: Obesity prevalence has more than doubled globally within the last 30 years. Obesity affects life quality and impacts the risks and prognosis for a number of serious diseases. Established causes include a high caloric diet combined with a sedentary lifestyle and possibly the widespread cessation of smoking. These do not fully explain the epidemic and evidence from animal experiments suggests PCBs predict obesity development. Knowledge on effects of these compounds as determinants of human abdominal obesity is limited. Methods: In the current study we investigated whether low dose exposure to PCBs in adipose tissue experienced by a general Danish population predicted increased abdominal circumference. We used 214 persons, aged ≥ 50 years that had previously been used as healthy controls in a study investigating PCBs and risk of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Adipose tissue was collected upon enrolment and PCBs were quantified using gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy. Results: Median levels of the included PCBs were lower in women, except for PCB118. All PCBs were positively associated with increased abdominal circumference, although this association was non-significant. Conclusion: These data indicate a positive link between PCBs and increased abdominal circumference. More work is needed to elucidate the role of compounds such as PCBs in development of the present obesity epidemic