Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and their Effects on Dietary Exposure

Throughout the years, we’ve come to realize and know more information about polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and how they may impact human health in good or bad ways. In this paper, I aim to research more information on whether polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in dietary exposure have any relation to diabetes risk. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), derived from common knowledge, are many groups that can contain many chemicals.

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These polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons can also be called polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons. PAHs are generally discharged into the atmosphere using fossil fuel, such as coal, oil, gasoline, as well as other types of products like tobacco and lumber (“Polycyclic”). In addition to the release of fossil fuels and the other types I’ve mentioned, there have been results found that high-temperature cooking, usually from grilling, can create polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the meat and other types of sustenance. PAHs can also be naturally released by the environment through volcanic eruptions, fires, and other high-temperature Earth processes (“Polycyclic”). In this paper, I will try to aim at explaining the relation of PAHs in dietary exposure; therefore, this paper will focus more on the ingestion side of exposures. Generally, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are found in the environment but can also be found accidentally. PAHs, can be found through cigarette and secondhand smoke, emissions, etc. PAHs, even though the can be found through the grilling, charring, and other types of cooking for meat, can also be found in liquids due to the contamination of said waters from emission (“Polycyclic”). When speaking about who is the worst at risk for exposures to PAHs, we can conclude that us consumers, smokers, infants, and generally everyone can potentially be at risk.

Even though I had no previous knowledge about whether PAHs pose a risk in getting diabetes, I will hypothesize that when it comes to dietary exposure of PAHs, there can be a risk of getting diabetes. In relation to dietary exposure, it may also depend on the cooking methods of meat, as well complications of where water is taken from or how water was obtained.

Though the materials and methods section are an essential component for any type of LAB report, I don’t fully understand the need for this section when all the research is done using the internet and database use from the Henry Madden Library. Nonetheless, I will attempt to give a detailed account of the procedure that was done in the duration of the research paper. 

Database/Internet Data: I collected information from the Henry Madden Library database structure to help with my research on whether PAHs had a successful link to diabetes in dietary exposure. I collected information from many articles, though some of them may not fully explain a direct correlation to the risk of diabetes with exposures to PAHs in dietary exposure, at least they attempted to. The materials used to fulfill this research were using a computer and then the use of the university’s library’s collection of database information. The procedure goes as follows: I searched up ‘Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons ??“ in dietary exposure ??“ diabetes’. In other instances, I also tried looking up information by using abbreviations like ‘PAHs ??“ diet ??“ diabetes’. To prepare to develop the research information for this study, a word-processing program such as Microsoft Word was used.

For this section of the paper, will attempt to review each resource and article as well as go over the results and information given out. The discussion is mixed into the results so that the paper is read more easily.

In this study, the researchers tried to demonstrate that there is a risk of increased health defects when the PAH, benzo (a) pyrene, is present in high-fat diets (Ayman et al. 2010). In their research, results showed that in their in vivo, it showed that high-fat diet (HFD) stimulated mouse in a pre-diabetic state in comparison to other animals that were fed only normal food. It was shown that when fed with HFD diets, there was an increase of a specific type of mRNA concentration in the small intestine, as well as an increase of tumor necrosis factor alpha in the colon as well as a very large increase in the liver. Further results show that when eating high-fat diets (with the benzoapyrene), there was an increase of expression of genes in relation to type 2 diabetes, more so specific on the uncoupling of UCP2 protein all through the bowel and liver but was not found in the colon (Ayman et al. 2010).

What is interesting about this study is that they found that when benzoapyrene was added into the high-fat diet, there was a significant decrease in the expression of an incretin glucagon peptide, which plays a vital role in insulin secretion.  In conclusion to this specific study, their results showed that since benzoapyrene, one of the many chemicals in the group polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons was added to the high-fat diets (HFD) increased further intestinal inflammation, there could be a correlation of risk of getting type 2 diabetes since it induced more inflammatory production (Ayman et al. 2010).

In this study, after looking through the whole research study, it seems as if this study was almost very similar in what happened to the participants studied. Gang Liu et al. researched on the effect of different types of cooking methods for red meat and how it may have an increased risk of Type 2 Diabetes. This study studied women who ate red meat regularly, which can amount to 2 or more servings per week. The group chose and observed 59,033 women who were in the ages between 30-55 who were free of diabetes, other types of cardiovascular health problems, as well as free of cancer. In addition to this observance, they also took notes on the frequency of the different types of cooking methods those women chose to cook their red meats. Different cooking methods can range from but not limited to: braising, searing, stewing, baking, roasting, broiling, (Gang et al. 2017). How does this relate to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)? Gang Liu and the other researchers explain that cooking temperature can influence the production of harmful chemicals, such as heterocyclic aromatic amines, as well as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which can effectively interfere with insulin production and sensitivity (Gang et al. 2017).

When looking at their results, it wasn’t exactly surprising to see that there were about 6,206 incident cases of type 2 diabetes. Results showed that there was an increased risk of type 2 diabetes when the participants decided to broil, barbeque, and roast red meats.  When looking at other types of cooking methods, the researchers found that there was an inverse effect/association when it came to the pan-frying cooking method and no association on the stewing and broiling of red meat in relation to risk of getting type 2 diabetes. In conclusion, the results the group researchers gathered found that total red meat consumption and the specific types of cooking methods of those red meats, especially broiling and barbequing, can further increase diabetes risk (Gang et al. 2017).

In this study, though this isn’t in direct correlation to diabetes, it is a helpful source of peer-reviewed article to understand whether different geographic areas in the world are in danger of having much PAHs in their diet. There were about 725 foodstuffs that were analyzed in this study and all of them were analyzed through a gas chromatography which is coupled to a tandem mass spectrometer. Results showed that few of the highest concentration of PAH in the foodstuffs were chrysene, benzo-fluoranthene, and benza-anthracene (Veyrand et al 2013).

When it came to foodstuffs, most of the high concentration of chemicals were noticed more on mollusks and crustaceans. According to a different article though, it is explained that crustaceans metabolize PAH compounds and that mollusks readily accrue PAHs in their tissues (Perrin 2012). This shows that there can be an either PAHs within urban waters. In addition to this information, we can conclude that living things can naturally accumulate PAHs and without knowing, we can be eating such animals and be in risk of diabetes, or other health complications (Veyrand et al. 2013). With than in mind, when looking into the French population individual food consumption food data and the margin of exposure that Bruno Veyrand et al. found, it was concluded that exposure of PAHs through food consumption is was and is not posing a major health concern for consumers that are French and that reside in France (Veyrand et al. 2013).


After looking through this research study, I couldn’t pass it up even though it related more to cancer than it did to diabetes. In terms of discussing diabetes, we still must take in account about other types of diseases that can initiate due to PAHs. Though this research article is closely related to cancer, when looking at the data and research the group found, it was similar in that they had benzoapyrene in the foodstuffs that they sampled. In the first article that I reviewed, they had information that benzoapyrene, the PAH found in high-fat diets (HFD), can cause an impediment with insulin production (Ayman 2010). This means that since this research study found benzoapyrene in their foodstuffs, this can cause not only cancer but diabetes as well. With that in mind, I’ll be explaining their results.

In Zhonghuan Xia et al.’s research study, they sampled about seven categories of foods in December 2008 and about 16 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were found in high concentrations. Now what is interesting about this is that the highest level of total PAHs was detected in pork (Zhonghuan et al. 2010). In relation to my first article, high-fat diets were found to have a significant number of PAHs. Further research search shows that the lowest concentration of PAHs was found in milk. This means that not only does meat have PAHs but so do liquids. The group researcher’s sensitivity analysis concluded that benzoapyrene had more impact on the slope factor of oral cancer than that of body weight factors (Zhonghuan et al. 2010).

        In this article, I’m going to be comparing it to my second article review about the type of cooking/grilling that was done to meats. This article by Smith S. et al., they are going to try to explore the correlation between PAHs and diabetes and whether effects are similar or dissimilar when looking at body mass index. This article wasn’t as large of an information bank as the ones that I was studying but it facilitated me in trying to understand the limitations of information.

The group researchers in this study discussed and showed results that there was a positive association with diabetes when it comes to having high levels of exposures to PAHs. Derived from common knowledge, obesity is closely related to insulin factors/production. Research from previous articles had the same conclusion that PAHs have the capacity to affect insulin production and increase adiposity of tissues in several ways (Smith et al. 2018). Further research by Smith S. et al. found out that when looking at animal models, it is suggested that when they are exposed to PAHs, it can potentially lead to weight gain by the impairing lipolysis of adipose tissue (cross-referenced from another article by Irigaray et al., 2006).

In conclusion, PAHs, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, are groups that are made up of large groups of chemicals. PAHs can be found almost everywhere, places such as the environment, food, or even water. PAHs can also be found through different types of cooking red meat. This paper tried to distinguish whether there is a correlation between diabetes and dietary exposure of PAHs and concluded that there is both an indirect and direct cause of diabetes. The type of cooking can produce PAHs that inhibit insulin production. Other research shows that even milk can have PAHs and may pose a risk to human health. 

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