Is common dust making us overweight?
Science & Tech / /
It is already known that common dust can make us sneeze, but is it possible that it can also make us gain weight?
Researchers had previously discovered that household dust, which is a mixture of fine particles found in the surrounding, contains chemicals that can influence the body’s natural hormonal processes, and by that impact various body functions as fertility, weight or mood.
“As it turns out there's a wide variety of consumer products that leach various classes of chemicals into the indoor environment, and many labs have found that they kind of accumulate over time in house dust,” says study author Christopher Kassotis, an endocrine researcher at The Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University.
We are becoming aware that what doesn’t kill us today is not necessarily making us stronger, but could cause health problems in the future. Researchers have recently begun to actualize and research the idea that chemicals in our surrounding might even affect our metabolism. Scientists have studied this issue over the past few years to better understand the bioactivity of these chemicals.
This study published in Environmental Science and Technology, was based on 41 chemicals identified in earlier studies as being present in household dust. The researchers used the mouse pre-adipocyte cell model, which is precursors of fat cells, in order to see if those chemicals influence fat development.
They examined wheter the chemicals found in dust make the precursor develop more fat-like cells. The conclusion was that about two-thirds of the tested chemicals were positive in triggering fat cell development.
In another part of the study, scientists gave instructions to 11 home owners not to clean their homes in the name of science for at least two days before the sample were collected.
When scientists ran the samples through the mouse pre-adipocyte cell model, 10 out of 11 dust samples were positive for some kind of fat-triggering activity.
"One of the big take aways," says Kassotis, "is that metabolic disrupters are probably much more common than we've thought of up until now."
The conclusion of the study is not that the reason people are getting fatter is the household dust. Mainly, the study was done on mice cells, not on human. But Kassotis said that "because this model is so well evaluated and because we understand it so well, there's been a large number of studies that have really taken this the whole way to humans.” Even though there is no direct evidence that the results on human cells would be the same as if in mouse cells, the evidence certainly points in that direction.
"I think there's a strong likelihood that if a chemical can stimulate [the cells used in the study] to turn into fat cells, that is a strong indicator that this chemical could potentially do the same thing in a person," says Schlezinger. "I would hesitate to say it's absolute."
It's too soon to tell whether or not these chemicals are making us gain weight, especially because the study is seen as an essential first step. Even if the same effect is demonstrated in humans, it’s most likely only a small contributor to the overweight problem. But Kassotis still claims that many research studying this issue, including this one, suggests that reducing the exposure to these endocrine-disrupting chemicals in fact makes sense.