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Can Habitual Exercise Help Reduce Serum Concentrations of Lipophilic Chemical Mixtures? Association between Physical Activity and Persistent Organic Pollutants
Yu-Mi Lee, Ji-Yeon Shin, Se-A Kim, David R. Jacobs, Duk-Hee Lee
Diabetes Metab J. 2020;44(5):764-774.   Published online May 11, 2020
  • 5,589 View
  • 87 Download
  • 5 Web of Science
  • 7 Crossref
AbstractAbstract PDFSupplementary MaterialPubReader   ePub   

Low-dose persistent organic pollutants (POPs), especially organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), have emerged as a new risk factor of many chronic diseases. As serum concentrations of POPs in humans are mainly determined by both their release from adipose tissue to circulation and their elimination from circulation, management of these internal pathways may be important in controlling the serum concentrations of POPs. As habitual physical activity can increase the elimination of POPs from circulation, we evaluated whether chronic physical activity is related to low serum POP concentrations.


A cross-sectional study of 1,850 healthy adults (age ≥20 years) without cardio-metabolic diseases who participated in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999 to 2004 was conducted. Information on moderate or vigorous leisure-time physical activity was obtained based on questionnaires. Serum concentrations of OCPs and polychlorinated biphenyls were investigated as typical POPs.


Serum concentrations of OCPs among physically active subjects were significantly lower than those among physically inactive subjects (312.8 ng/g lipid vs. 538.0 ng/g lipid, P<0.001). This difference was maintained after adjustment for potential confounders. When analyses were restricted to physically active subjects, there were small decreases in the serum concentrations of OCPs with increasing duration of physical activity, showing a curvilinear relationship over the whole range of physical activity (Pquadratic <0.001). In analyses stratified by age, sex, body mass index, and smoking status, a strong inverse association was similarly observed among all subgroups.


Physical activity may assist in decreasing serum concentrations of lipophilic chemical mixtures such as OCPs.


Citations to this article as recorded by  
  • Is Physical Activity an Efficient Strategy to Control the Adverse Effects of Persistent Organic Pollutants in the Context of Obesity? A Narrative Review
    Quentin A. Serrano, Sébastien Le Garf, Vincent Martin, Serge S. Colson, Nicolas Chevalier
    International Journal of Molecular Sciences.2024; 25(2): 883.     CrossRef
  • Physical exercise and persistent organic pollutants
    Chang Liu, Hui sheng Hou
    Heliyon.2023; 9(9): e19661.     CrossRef
  • Exposure to a low concentration of mixed organochlorine pesticides impairs glucose metabolism and mitochondrial function in L6 myotubes and zebrafish
    Chul-Min Park, Ki-Tae Kim, Dong-Young Rhyu
    Journal of Hazardous Materials.2021; 414: 125437.     CrossRef
  • Can Environmental Pollutants Be a Factor Linking Obesity and COVID-19?
    Duk-Hee Lee
    Journal of Korean Medical Science.2021;[Epub]     CrossRef
  • Letter to the Editor: Effect of fatty fish or nut consumption on concentrations of persistent organic pollutants in overweight or obese men and women: A randomized controlled clinical trial
    Yu-Mi Lee, Duk-Hee Lee
    Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases.2020; 30(5): 849.     CrossRef
  • Can habitual exercise really increase serum concentrations of persistent organic pollutants?
    Yu-Mi Lee, Duk-Hee Lee
    Environment International.2020; 140: 105615.     CrossRef
  • Response to correspondence ENVINT_2020_552 “Can habitual exercise really increase serum concentrations of persistent organic pollutants?”
    Sidsel L. Domazet, Tina K. Jensen, Anders Grøntved
    Environment International.2020; 140: 105616.     CrossRef
Mitochondrial Toxins and Healthy Lifestyle Meet at the Crossroad of Hormesis
Yu-Mi Lee, Duk-Hee Lee
Diabetes Metab J. 2019;43(5):568-577.   Published online October 24, 2019
  • 6,211 View
  • 94 Download
  • 12 Web of Science
  • 12 Crossref
AbstractAbstract PDFPubReader   

Mitochondrial function is crucial for the maintenance of cellular homeostasis under physiological and stress conditions. Thus, chronic exposure to environmental chemicals that affect mitochondrial function can have harmful effects on humans. We argue that the concept of hormesis should be revisited to explain the non-linear responses to mitochondrial toxins at a low-dose range and develop practical methods to protect humans from the negative effects of mitochondrial toxins. Of the most concern to humans are lipophilic chemical mixtures and heavy metals, owing to their physical properties. Even though these chemicals tend to demonstrate no safe level in humans, a non-linear dose-response has been also observed. Stress response activation, i.e., hormesis, can explain this non-linearity. Recently, hormesis has reemerged as a unifying concept because diverse stressors can induce similar stress responses. Besides potentially harmful environmental chemicals, healthy lifestyle interventions such as exercise, calorie restriction (especially glucose), cognitive stimulation, and phytochemical intake also activate stress responses. This conceptual link can lead to the development of practical methods that counterbalance the harm of mitochondrial toxins. Unlike chemical hormesis with its safety issues, the activation of stress responses via lifestyle modification can be safely used to combat the negative effects of mitochondrial toxins.


Citations to this article as recorded by  
  • Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) micro- and nanoplastic particles affect the mitochondrial efficiency of human brain vascular pericytes without inducing oxidative stress
    Sean M. Gettings, William Timbury, Anna Dmochowska, Riddhi Sharma, Rebecca McGonigle, Lewis E. MacKenzie, Guillaume Miquelard-Garnier, Nora Bourbia
    NanoImpact.2024; 34: 100508.     CrossRef
  • The current insights of mitochondrial hormesis in the occurrence and treatment of bone and cartilage degeneration
    Wacili Da, Quan Chen, Bin Shen
    Biological Research.2024;[Epub]     CrossRef
  • Rules of Heliogeomagnetics Diversely Coordinating Biological Rhythms and Promoting Human Health
    Kuniaki Otsuka, Germaine Cornelissen, Andi Weydahl, Denis Gubin, Larry A. Beaty, Masatoshi Murase
    Applied Sciences.2023; 13(2): 951.     CrossRef
  • Can lipophilic pollutants in adipose tissue explain weight change‐related risk in type 2 diabetes mellitus?
    Duk‐Hee Lee, In‐Kyu Lee
    Journal of Diabetes Investigation.2023; 14(4): 528.     CrossRef
  • Hormetic Effects of Cerium, Lanthanum and Their Combination at Sub-micromolar Concentrations in Sea Urchin Sperm
    Giovanni Pagano, Antonios Apostolos Brouziotis, Daniel Lyons, Ivana Čarapar, Rahime Oral, Serkan Tez, Philippe J. Thomas, Franca Tommasi, Giovanni Libralato, Marco Guida, Marco Trifuoggi
    Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology.2023;[Epub]     CrossRef
  • Mitochondria: It is all about energy
    Amaloha Casanova, Anne Wevers, Santiago Navarro-Ledesma, Leo Pruimboom
    Frontiers in Physiology.2023;[Epub]     CrossRef
  • Type 2 Diabetes Induced by Changes in Proteomic Profiling of Zebrafish Chronically Exposed to a Mixture of Organochlorine Pesticides at Low Concentrations
    Yan Gao, Hyojin Lee, Sangkyu Lee, Ki-Tae Kim
    International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.2022; 19(9): 4991.     CrossRef
  • Effect of Low-Dose Persistent Organic Pollutants on Mitochondrial Function: Human and in Vitro Evidence
    Se-A Kim, Hoyul Lee, Sung-Mi Park, Mi-Jin Kim, Yu-Mi Lee, Young-Ran Yoon, Hyun-Kyung Lee, Hyo-Bang Moon, In-Kyu Lee, Duk-Hee Lee
    Diabetes & Metabolism Journal.2022; 46(4): 592.     CrossRef
  • Can Environmental Pollutants Be a Factor Linking Obesity and COVID-19?
    Duk-Hee Lee
    Journal of Korean Medical Science.2021;[Epub]     CrossRef
  • Intensive weight loss and cognition: The dynamics of persistent organic pollutants in adipose tissue can explain the unexpected results from the Action for Health in Diabetes (Look AHEAD) study
    Yu‐Mi Lee, Sun‐Hee Park, Duk‐Hee Lee
    Alzheimer's & Dementia.2020; 16(4): 696.     CrossRef
  • Lipophilic Environmental Chemical Mixtures Released During Weight‐Loss: The Need to Consider Dynamics
    Duk‐Hee Lee, David R Jacobs, Lars Lind, P. Monica Lind
    BioEssays.2020;[Epub]     CrossRef
  • Environmental toxicology and ecotoxicology: How clean is clean? Rethinking dose-response analysis
    Evgenios Agathokleous, Edward J. Calabrese
    Science of The Total Environment.2020; 746: 138769.     CrossRef

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