Pesticides are commonly used in modern industrial agriculture, and people who come into regular contact with these chemicals face a variety of health risks. New research suggests that zinc supplementation could be an effective method of reducing the damage caused by pesticide-induced oxidative stress.
By Khadiga Salah Ibrahim
Pesticides play a significant role in public health by decreasing food- and vector-borne diseases. Vectors of disease, like mosquitoes and other blood-sucking insects, do not cause disease themselves but transmit infections like malaria and dengue fever.
Despite the obvious benefits of pesticides, overexposure can be harmful as it induces oxidative stress. This occurs via an increase in the formation of free oxygen radicals in the body as well as the alteration of antioxidant enzymes. The resulting imbalance between potentially harmful oxidants and antioxidant defenses causes damage to cells and tissues. Furthermore, oxidative stress has been shown to increase the levels of unhealthy fats found in the body.
After previous studies demonstrated protective effects of the trace mineral zinc on the antioxidant system, a group of Egyptian researchers decided to investigate the influence of zinc supplementation on the oxidant-antioxidant balance and blood lipid profile of pesticide sprayers. The results of their study were recently published in the Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine.
The experimental group consisted of 40 male pesticide sprayers from a small village in an agricultural area of Upper Egypt who received one zinc tablet per day over one month. Blood samples were taken before the study and after one month. The researchers then assessed blood lipid and zinc levels as well as antioxidant enzyme activity.
As anticipated, the researchers found that the supplements did reduce oxidative stress caused by occupational pesticide exposure. According to the scientists, zinc enhances the scavenging activities of antioxidant enzymes, allowing them to “catch” more free oxygen radicals. The lipid status of the participants was also demonstrably improved, illustrated by reduced LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood.
Considering these promising results, the researchers conclude that the intake of exogenous zinc could be effective in ameliorating the toxicity of pesticides.
Read the original article here: