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DDT and other pesticides decrease vitamin D

Summary of an e-mail discussion with the author of this paper

  • Most people in the US now have a low level of DDT in their blood - generally less to 20nanograms/gram
  • He believes that 20ng/g level of DDT decreases the vitamin D level by 3 - 4 ng/ml
    This paper examines the slight non-linearity of that relationship

It appears that all organochlorine pesticides decrease the vitamin D blood levels.
It appears that DDT decreases vitamin D levels has been known since the 1970's

Pesticide-Induced Diseases database

The Cancer portion of the extensive database
Bladder Cancer ● Bone Cancer ● Brain Cancer ● Breast Cancer ● Cervical Cancer ● Colorectal Cancer ● Eye Cancer ● Gallbladder Cancer ● Kidney/Renal Cancer ● Larynx Cancer ● Leukemia ● Lip Cancer ● Liver/Hepatic Cancer ● Lung Cancer ● Lymphoma ● Melanoma ● Mouth Cancer ● Multiple Myeloma ● Neuroblastoma ● Oesophageal Cancer ● Ovarian Cancer ● Pancreatic Cancer ● Prostate Cancer ● Sinonasal Cancer ● Soft Tissue Sarcoma ● Stomach Cancer ● Testicular Cancer ● Thyroid Cancer ● Uterine Cancer
It also has the following sections
Asthma and Respiratory Effects
Birth Defects
Brain and Nervous System Disorders
Endocrine Disruption
Immune System Disorders
Sexual and Reproductive Dysfunction

DDT timeline subset from Science Heroes

1947 - In 13 southern states, over 4,650,000 houses were sprayed with DDT.
1959 - More than 80 million lbs of DDT was sprayed over the US (half a pound per person).
1961 - DDT use reaches its peak. It is registered for use on 334 agricultural products.
1962 - Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring blamed environmental destruction on DDT.
1969 - Residues of DDT and its metabolites (such as DDE) found worldwide.
1970 - WHO announces that malaria has been eradicated in 37 countries, EPA established
1972 - EPA bans DDT in the U.S.
1976 - WHO gives up on eradicating malaria.
1998 - POPS Treaty proposes banning DDT.

Interesting: DDT peak use is when the vitamin D deficiency epidemic started

Comment by Thomas O. Feb 1, 2012

A foreign “unnatural” (manmade) chemical should be a cellular stress stimuli which demands access to the DNA library for a cell which chews up vitamin D, and since there would be no proper stimuli response to a manmade chemical the stimuli would not go away and chew up vitamin D reserves.

Evolution has only provided DNA stimuli responses to things found in nature, not manmade chemicals, which would be totally foreign to the cell and offer a stress there was no response for.
This explains poor calcium transport in birds and the weak calcium formation of their eggs, and why DDT laden birds laid eggs that broke and crushed under the bird’s own weight.

Associations between Organochlorine Pesticides and Vitamin D Deficiency in the U.S. Population - 2012

Jin-Hoon Yang1,2, Yu-Mi Lee1, Sang-Geun Bae1, David R. Jacobs Jr.3,4, Duk-Hee Lee 1 lee_dh at knu.ac.kr
1 Department of Preventative Medicine, School of Medicine, Kyungpook National University, Daegu, Korea,
2 Department of Occupational Medicine, CHA Gumi Medical Center, CHA University, Gumi, Korea,
3 Division of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States of America,
4 Department of Nutrition, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
Received: August 30, 2011; Accepted: December 9, 2011; Published: January 25, 2012

Background: Recently low dose organochlorine (OC) pesticides have been strongly linked to various chronic diseases including diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Both field and animal studies have suggested a possibility that persistent lipophilic chemicals like OC pesticides can cause vitamin D deficiency, but there have been no human studies of exposure to any chemical as a possible cause of vitamin D deficiency. This study was performed to examine if serum concentrations of OC pesticides were associated with serum concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) in the U.S. general population.

Methodology/Principal Findings Cross-sectional associations of serum OC pesticides with serum 25(OH)D were investigated in 1,275 subjects aged ?20 in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey(NHANES), 2003–2004. We selected 7 OC pesticides detectable in ?80% of participants. Among the 7 OC pesticides, p,p?-DDT (? = ?0.022, P<0.01), p,p?-DDE (? = ?0.018, P = 0.04), and ?-hexachlorocyclohexane (? = ?0.022, P = 0.02) showed significant inverse associations with serum 25(OH)D levels. When study subjects were stratified by age, race, and the presence of various chronic diseases, p,p?-DDT showed consistent inverse associations in all subgroups, although stronger associations tended to be observed among subjects with old age, white race, or chronic diseases.

Conclusion/Significance The current study suggests that the background exposure to some OC pesticides leads to vitamin D deficiency in human. Considering the importance of vitamin D deficiency in the development of chronic diseases, chemical exposure as a possible cause of vitamin D deficiency should be evaluated in prospective and experimental studies.

 Download the PDF from VitaminDWiki

Author  Thomas O.  Feb 2012

Thomas O made this graphic as a result of this paper

Pesticides Linked to Vitamin D Deficiency from Beyond Pesticides Daily Blog

Clipped item - without hyperlinks

“We have known for many years that DDT causes egg shell thinning,” says David Carpenter, PhD, director of the Institute for Health and Environment at the University of Albany, New York. “Since egg shell thickness is regulated by vitamin D, this study shows that the same suppression of vitamin D occurs in humans.”

Most organochlorine pesticides were banned in the U.S. decades ago, but are still detectable in people because they resist biodegradation in the environment, are lipophilic and accumulate in fat tissues. However, organochlorine uses do continue in the U.S., although EPA has proclaimed that they represent unreasonable risks. Under an agreement EPA negotiated in July 2010, most currently approved endosulfan crop uses will end in 2012, including over 30 crop uses plus use on ornamental trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants. About 12 other crop uses will end over the following four years. Of these 12, the last four endosulfan uses will end on July 31, 2016. See details on EPA’s phase-out agreement. Under a separate agreement signed last year, dicofol, an organochlorine miticide/pesticide, may continue to be used through 2016 for foliar applications on cotton, apples, citrus, strawberries, mint, beans, peppers, tomatoes, pecans, walnuts, stonefruit, cucurbits, and non-residential lawns/ornamentals. According to EPA, “Trace amounts of DDT (<0.1%) have been measured in dicofol products given its use in the manufacture of dicofol..." Lindane shampoos for lice and lotion for scabies is still permitted by the Food ad Drug Administration as prescription only products. The wood preservative, pentachlorophenol, is still allowed by EPA to be used on treated telephone poles that line streets and backyards across the country.

Organochlorines have been linked to a number of adverse effects to human health, including birth defects and diabetes. One study found a correlation between organochlorine metabolites in fatty tissue and an increased risk of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The most infamous member of this class of pesticides if DDT. A long line of recent studies associated with the negative health effects of DDT include breast cancer and autism. Despite the fact that DDT was banned in the U.S. in 1972, concentrations of this toxic chemical’s major metabolite, DDE, have remained alarmingly high in many ecosystems, including surface waters, the arctic, and even U.S. national parks.

Studies like these illustrate how the health impacts of pesticides can be often subtle and delayed, and pesticides once considered to pose “acceptable” risks are continuing to affect public health. In response to the growing evidence linking pesticide exposures to numerous human health effects, Beyond Pesticides’ Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database captures the range of diseases linked to pesticides through epidemiologic studies. The database, which currently contains hundreds of entries of epidemiologic and laboratory exposure studies, is continually updated to track the emerging findings and trends.

Alzheimer's Disease, Asthma, Birth Defects, Body Burden, Diabetes, Endocrine Disruption, Learning/Developmental, Parkinson's Disease, Reproductive Health, Bladder Cancer ? Bone Cancer ? Brain Cancer ? Cervical Cancer ? Colorecatal Cancer ? Eye Cancer ? Gallbladder Cancer ? Kidney/Renal Cancer ? Larynx Cancer ? Leukemia ? Lip Cancer ? Liver/Hepatic Cancer ? Lung Cancer ? Lymphoma ? Melanoma ? Mouth Cancer ? Multiple Myeloma ? Neuroblastoma ? Oesophageal Cancer ? Ovarian Cancer ? Pancreatic Cancer ? Prostate Cancer ? Soft Tissue Sarcoma ? Stomach Cancer ? Sinonasal Cancer ? Testicular Cancer ? Thyroid Cancer ? Uteran Cancer


A Beyond Pesticides Factsheet

The following is a small clip of their page


  • 78 million households in the U.S. use home and garden pesticides.(i)
  • Herbicides account for the highest usage of pesticides in the home and garden sector with over 90 million pounds applied on lawns and gardens per year. (ii)
  • Suburban lawns and gardens receive more pesticide applications per acre (3.2-9.8 lbs) than agriculture (2.7 lbs per acre on average). (iii)
  • Pesticide sales by the chemical industry average $9.3 billion. Annual sales of the landscape industry are over $35 billion. (iv)
  • Included in the most commonly used pesticides per pounds per year are: 2,4-D (8-11 million), Glyphosate (5-8 million), MCPP (Mecoprop) (4-6 million), Pendimethalin (3-6 million), Dicamba (2-4 million). (v)
  • A 2004 national survey reveals that 5 million homeowners use only organic lawn practices and products and 35 million people use both toxic and non-toxic materials. (vi)


  • Of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides 19 have studies pointing toward carcinogens, 13 are linked with birth defects, 21 with reproductive effects, 15 with neurotoxicity, 26 with liver or kidney damage, 27 are sensitizers and/or irritants, and 11 have the potential to disrupt the endocrine (hormonal) system. (vii)
  • Pregnant women, infants and children, the aged and the chronically ill are at greatest risk from pesticide exposure and chemically induced immune-suppression, which can increase susceptibility to cancer. (viii)
  • Scientific studies find pesticide residues such as the weedkiller 2,4-D and the insecticide carbaryl inside homes, due to drift and track-in, where they contaminate air, dust, surfaces and carpets and expose children at levels ten times higher than preapplication levels. (ix)


  • Of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides, 17 are detected in groundwater, and 23 have the potential to leach. (xxi)
  • Runoff has resulted in a widespread presence of pesticides in streams and groundwater. 2,4-D, found in weed and feed and other lawn products, is the herbicide most frequently detected in streams and shallow ground water from urban lawns. (xxii)
  • Of the 50 chemicals on EPA’s list of unregulated drinking water contaminants, several are lawn chemicals including herbicides diazinon, diuron, naphthalene, and various triazines such as atrazine. (xxiii)
  • Runoff from synthetic chemical fertilizers pollutes streams and lakes and causes algae blooms, depleted oxygen and damage to aquatic life.

Pesticides such as Chlorpyrifos deactivate Vitamin D genes that synthisize vitamin D - April 2021

Chlorpyrifos alters expression of enzymes involved in vitamin D3 synthesis in skin cells
Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pestbp.2021.104812
Skin acts as a mechanical barrier between human body and environment. Epidermal cells are regularly exposed to many physiological and environmental stressors, such as pesticides, like chlorpyrifos (CPS). It is recognised that CPS may affect metabolism of other exo- and endogenous substances by affecting enzyme activity and expression. This study aims to investigate the effect of CPS on expression of

  • CYP27A1,
  • CYP27B1 and
  • CYP24A1,

the enzymes involved in synthesis and metabolism of vitamin D3, in human keratinocytes HaCaT and human fibroblasts BJ. Synthesis of vitamin D3 in cells was initiated by irradiating with UVB. Expression of CYP27A1, CYP27B1 and CYP24A1 was evaluated by RT-qPCR and Western blot. Our experiments revealed that expression of all tested cytochrome P450 isoforms in cells exposed to CPS changed significantly. Exposure of HaCaT keratinocytes to CPS decreased CYP27A1 mRNA levels, but increased CYP27B1 and CYP24A1 mRNA levels. This was confirmed at the protein level, except for the CYP27A1 expression. Outcome for the BJ cells was however less conclusive. Though exposure to CPS decreased CYP27A1 and CYP27B1 mRNA levels, at protein level increasing concentration of CPS and UVB intensity induced expression of CYP27A1 and CYP24A1. The expression of CYP27B1 isoform decreased in line with mRNA level. Nevertheless, it can be concluded that CPS may therefore interrupt vitamin D3 metabolism in skin cells, but further studies are required to better understand such mechanisms.

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