Sick legacy – how DDT exposure from the past may affect many generations to come

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New research provides worrying evidence that exposing your grandparents to toxic pollutants like DDT could increase the risk of disease for you and all of your future offspring.

A recent study suggests that the granddaughters of women who were exposed to DDT decades ago are more likely to have their period early, more likely to become obese, and may even have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. breast.

Michele La Merrill, an environmental toxicologist at the University of California at Davis, is one of the authors of this multigenerational human study, but she is also studying it in animals.

She said her group also found in animals that DDT inhibits the burning of calories, which results in more calories being stored as fat.

Teams in the Greater Winnipeg Mosquito Abatement District used DDT to fog up soil and water in 1955. DDT was officially introduced to Canada in the mid-1970s. (City of Winnipeg Archives / Parks and Recreation Photo Collection)

But other work suggests the effects of pollution exposure could last well beyond three generations.

Michael Skinner, a biologist at Washington State University, studies how environmental toxins, like DDT, affect epigenetic inheritance. It is the science of how changes in the way our DNA is expressed can be passed on to future generations.

He found that the effects of DDT exposure can be passed on for four generations in rodents, but said based on other studies with different animals and with different toxic chemicals, the effects could last for much longer. generations and could, in fact, be permanent.

Given the effects he and other scientists have seen, Skinner said our current and ancestral exposures – to DDT and many other toxic synthetic chemicals we’ve been exposed to over the years – could be to the origin of the increase in chronic diseases in the world today.


Produced and written by Sonya purchase. To listen to Michael Skinner’s interview, click on the link at the top.



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