South Pacific Island Nation First Country to Ban Environmentally Harmful Sunscreens

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
"Protect Coral Reefs" by NOAA's National Ocean Service is licensed under CC BY 2.0Ariel Kushmaro and Esti Kramarsky-Winter
Department of Biotechnology Engineering, Ben Gurion University
Beer Sheva, Israel

The Republic of Palau, a South Pacific island nation, became the world’s first country to ban sunscreen products containing environmentally harmful ingredients

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this announcement? What are the main findings? 

Response: Coral reefs are important ecosystems that are under threat due to global human driven climate change. In addition to global changes, local hazards such as point pollution by eutrophication, dredging and chemical pollution are exacerbating and promoting reef destruction at local levels. This destruction affects not only island nations that depend on these reefs for protection and livelihood, they affect humanity as a whole as they are an important source for food and novel drugs and new materials.

Our recent studies have shown that chemicals found in most commercial sunscreens and creams used to protect humans from deleterious effects of UV A and UVB wash off into the environment are persistent, have endocrine disruptive effects, and thus deleteriously affect marine organisms including corals.  Continue reading

Why Are Some Homes Prone to Cockroach Infestation?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
"Cockroaches at night" by Sigurd Tao Lyngse is licensed under CC BY 2.0Changlu Wang, PhD

The Urban Entomology lab
Department of Entomology
Rutgers University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Cockroaches are an important public health pest. They carry pathogens and produce allergens which causes asthma. Some residential communities always have chronic cockroach infestations.

This study is designed to understand the environmental and behavioral factors associated with cockroaches in low-income homes occupied by senior citizens. We found 30% of the 388 surveyed homes had German cockroaches. Sanitation and residents’ tolerance are two factors significantly associated with the presence of cockroaches. A dirty apartment is 2.7 times more likely to have German cockroaches. Gender, ethnicity, and clutter level are not associated with presence of cockroaches. People would be bothered by cockroaches when more than 3 cockroaches are caught in sticky traps when 4 traps were placed per apartment over 2 weeks period.

A high percentage (36%) of residents were unaware of cockroaches when they were caught in traps in their homes. These findings are important for property managers and policy makers in designing better intervention methods to reduce the cockroach infestations.  Continue reading

What Can Be Done About Sundamaged Skin?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Janet Prystowsky, MD Dr. Prystowsky is a leading board-certified dermatologist in New York City.  In addition to her private practice, Dr. Prystowsky is a senior attending physician at Mount Sinai Roosevelt/St. Luke’s Medical Center.

Dr. Prystowsky

Dr. Janet Prystowsky, MD
Dr. Prystowsky is a leading board-certified dermatologist in
New York City.  

In addition to her private practice, Dr. Prystowsky is a senior attending physician at Mount Sinai Roosevelt/St. Luke’s Medical Center.
http://www.janetprystowskymd.com/

MedicalResearch.com: When does sun damage to the skin start?  Is there such a thing as a ‘safe tan’?  Who is most susceptible to photoaging?  What parts of the body are more likely to show signs of sun damage? 

Response: Sun damage will increase a person’s risk of premature aging and skin cancer.  Although tanning does function to help protect your skin from excessive ultraviolet radiation tanning is still a form of sun damage.  Also, people with very fair skin may not tan at all; only burn.  They are the most susceptible to sun damage. Certain medical conditions (e.g., Lupus), medications, cosmetics, and food can make your more reactive (photosensitive) to sunlight.

"Sunburn" by Kelly Sue DeConnick is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0Sunburns are caused by UV damage from sun rays, almost entirely due to UVB rays. UVA rays are weaker for burning but can contribute to blistering sunburns as well. For example, If you get lime peel rubbed on your skin while you are in the sun, you could get a bad burn.  UVA can also cause significant skin damage that can result in premature wrinkling, brown spots, and skin cancer. That’s why you’ll see dermatologists pushing for broad-spectrum sunscreens as opposed to sunscreens that just protect against UVB rays.  Continue reading

Why Are So Many People Near-Sighted?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Andrei V. Tkatchenko, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Columbia University Medical Center
Edward S. Harkness Eye Institute
New York, NY 10032

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Clear distance vision is rapidly becoming a rare privilege around the world, especially in Asia, due to increasing prevalence of myopia.

Although much effort has been directed towards elucidating the mechanisms underlying refractive eye development and myopia, treatment options for myopia are mostly limited to optical correction, which does not prevent progression of myopia or pathological blinding complications often associated with the disease. During early childhood development, the axial length of the eye normally grows to match its optical power in a process called emmetropization, producing focused images on the retina. However, very often environmental and genetic factors lead to a mismatch between the optical power of the eye and its axial length resulting in the development of myopia if eyes grow too long for their optical power. Experimental studies in many animal species suggest that emmetropization is regulated by optical defocus. The eye can compensate for imposed negative and positive optical defocus by increasing or decreasing its growth rate, respectively. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying emmetropization are poorly understood which prevents development of anti-myopia drugs.

Continue reading

Could Household Cleaners Be Making Children Overweight?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Kozyrskyj

Anita Kozyrskyj PhD
Professor in Pediatrics
Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry
School of Public Health
University of Alberta

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Data for this study were collected in the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) cohort of over 3,500 full-term infants born between 2009 and 2012. When infants were 3-4 months of age, parents provided a sample of their poop. At that time, parents checked-off responses to questions about their home, including type and frequency of cleaning product use. The infant poop was initially frozen, then thawed later to extract DNA from the sample and identify microbes on the basis of their DNA sequence.  Continue reading

Perfluorinated Chemicals as Emerging Environmental Threats to Kidney Health

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
John W. Stanifer, MD MSc
Duke Health

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: The key take home for me is that Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFAS) are a globally ubiquitous pollutant with high human exposure and concerning chemical properties that appear to be capable of kidney kidney disease through several plausible different mechanisms; yet, we know almost nothing about long term kidney health outcomes, who is at greatest risk for adverse outcomes, or which communities may be most negatively impacted.

The original impetus for the study was the discovery of GenX in the drinking water of Wilmington NC, a pollutant from a company upstream (see: https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article199846619.html ). It has been a huge story in NC and every day more and more is being discovered about how pervasive the pollution has become (https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/north-carolina/articles/2017-12-05/genx-compound-now-detected-in-food-product-in-n-carolina). While this was what caught my attention, as a North Carolinian, I quickly realized that these news stories are all over the place as any quick google search will reveal towns and communities contaminated with these from truly all of the United States. As a health disparities researcher in kidney disease,

I have been studying disparate rural populations in North Carolina, including American Indians, who live in communities with exceptionally high rates of kidney disease, which does not appear to be fully explained by “traditional” risk factors alone such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, etc. So with that context in mind, I really have begun to focus on these chemicals as potential second-hits or augmenters of kidney disease; we have been doing preliminary studies, in which we have found them in the serum of individuals from these areas, but before we can go further, we really needed to understand what all is known about them and the plausibility that they could cause kidney disease. Therefore, we conducted this comprehensive study to characterize what the potential mechanisms between these chemicals and kidney disease are and where the biggest gaps are.

MedicalResearch.com: Were you surprised by any of the findings?

Response: I was actually surprised by a few things about it. I thought that the link between these chemicals and kidney disease would be pretty weak, with very little to suggest these could be primary drivers of kidney disease. And while the epidemiological studies provided conflicting evidence that mostly but not overwhelmingly pointed toward an association, the toxicology and pharmacokinetic studies demonstrated several key mechanisms that could explain how these chemicals cause kidney disease, including oxidative stress pathways, peroxisome proliferators-activated receptor pathways, NF-E2– related factor 2 pathways, partial epithelial mesenchymal transition, and enhanced endothelial permeability through actin filament modeling.

It was also very interesting to learn that these compounds are taken up by the very same proximal tubule transporters that several known nephrotoxic drugs are taken up, including most notably the herb Aristocholic Acid which was of course responsible for the Balken Endemic Nephropathy that perplexed everyone for so long.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work? 

Response: Many gaps still exist. The biggest ones to me are that there are literally 1000s of these compounds, with only slight chemical variations, which make detection and regulation challenging. In fact most are still under proprietary aegis which prevents any type of study on them, and several of the “alternative” or “newer” PFCs (e.g. GEnX) have chemical properties that are particularly concerning, despite being marketed as “less toxic”. It is also very concerning to me that children and adolescents have the highest exposure; yet the long-term consequences are completely unknown and life-course epidemiology studies are very much needed. Finally, in the context of kidney disease, these are like so many other environmental toxins in that we don’t know how they interact to worsen or augment kidney disease in people with other risk factors such as diabetes or hypertension. So for example, wonder if you have diabetic nephropathy and are being exposed to these in high quantities? What does that mean for disparities in kidney disease and outcomes??

None of the authors have any disclosures with regards to this work.

 

Citation:

Perfluorinated Chemicals as Emerging Environmental Threats to Kidney Health
A Scoping Review

John W. Stanifer, Heather M. Stapleton, Tomokazu Souma, Ashley Wittmer, Xinlu Zhao and L. Ebony Boulware

CJASN September 2018, CJN.04670418; DOI: https://doi.org/10.2215/CJN.04670418 

Sep 19, 2018 @ 2:20 pm 

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Prenatal Exposure to Air Pollution May Affect Newborn’s Thyroid Function

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Carrie Breton ScD Associate Professor and Director of the MADRES Center  Division of Environmental Health Los Angeles, CA 90032

Dr. Breton

Carrie Breton ScD
Associate Professor and Director of the MADRES Center
Division of Environmental Health
Los Angeles, CA 90032

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: I am interested in how the environment can influence our very early development, starting in the womb. I have studied the health effects of air pollutants on children for several years and wanted to focus now on the earliest windows of susceptibility.  Thyroid hormones play a critical role in fetal growth and development. We knew we could get information on newborn thyroid levels from the California Department of Public Health’s newborn screening program therefore look at this question in our study population.

We found that exposure to high levels of PM2.5 and PM10 throughout most of pregnancy affected TT4 levels in newborns. Continue reading

Clothing Patterns of Boys Compared to Girls May Explain Differences in Patterns of Mole Development

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Lori A. Crane, PhD Department of Community and Behavioral Health Colorado School of Public Health University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora CO

Dr. Crane

Lori A. Crane, PhD
Department of Community and Behavioral Health
Colorado School of Public Health
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus,
Aurora CO 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Nevi, which are commonly called “moles”, are brown or black spots on the skin that are usually raised.  Moles are the number one risk factor for malignant melanoma, the most dangerous kind of skin cancer.  About 9,000 people die of melanoma each year in the U.S. The more moles a person has, the higher their risk for melanoma.  Sun exposure is a major factor in the development of moles, and in order to prevent melanoma, it is important to better understand how moles are formed on the skin.

Most moles are formed during childhood and adolescence.  We studied non-Hispanic and Hispanic white children age 3-16 and found that non-Hispanic children developed many more moles than Hispanic children.  Overall, boys developed more moles than girls, but there were some important differences.  For parts of the skin that are often covered by clothing but sometimes exposed to the sun, such as the chest and back, upper arms and upper legs, girls developed more moles than boys, especially among Hispanic children.  In contrast, for parts of the skin that are usually exposed to the sun, such as the face, boys developed many more moles than girls.  The development of moles leveled off by age 16 for parts of the skin usually exposed to the sun, while for the less often exposed skin, children continued to develop moles to age 16.

Continue reading

Microwave Radiation Targeting Diplomats in Cuba and China Resembles Traumatic Brain Injury

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Beatrice Golomb, MD, PhD Director of the Golomb Research Group Professor of Medicine University of California, San Diego

Dr. Golomb

Beatrice Golomb, MD, PhD
Director of the Golomb Research Group
Professor of Medicine
University of California, San DiegoResponse:

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? How was the radiation emitted?

Response: Possibilities include surveillance devices (or things to jam them), electronic weapons, or, less likely, “innocent” communications devices.


MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: That all key features of diplomats’ experiences comport with pulsed radiofrequency/ microwave (RF/MW) radiation.

  1. The nature of the “sounds” heard – chirping, clicking, ringing, grinding/buzzing – are known “sounds” produced via the “microwave auditory effect” aka Frey effect.  Different sounds are heard by different people, because the character of the sound heard depends on head dimensions (as well as pulse characteristics). Sounds were primarily heard at night: consistent with the microwave auditory effect, which requires low ambient noise. Some diplomats reported that sounds were spatially localized with “laserlike” specificity – said to defy known physics. This defies the physics of sound, but not radiation. The “sound” was reported to follow a diplomat as he walked, within the territory in which it was heard. Sound from a fixed source does not seem to follow people – but the microwave auditory affect does, often perceived as being located just behind (or in some cases just above, or inside) the head of the person, irrespective of the person’s orientation relative to the radiation source.
  2. The symptoms reported following these experiences also fit. Rates of reported symptoms in diplomats – headache, cognitive and sleep problems dominating, then dizziness, tinnitus, anxiety, nausea at lesser but still high rates – match closely with rates of the same symptoms reported in a 2012 Japanese study of people who report health effects from radiation, typically including pulsed RF/MW. Hearing loss is a relatively distinctive and prominent symptom in both diplomats, and RF/MW affected civilians. In both groups, some reportedly experience speech problems, balance problems, nosebleed, and strange sensations of vibration and pressure.

Reports of symptoms with RF/MW exposures date at least to the 1920s, affecting radio amateurs and shipboard radio operators as well as others working with radar or microwaves in occupational settings. By 1971/72, a Naval report with over 2300 citations (many from Russia and Eastern Europe), assessing effects of low intensity RF radiation, had whole sections devoted to each of a number of the symptoms diplomats report.

  1. Hundreds (if not thousands) of studies have illuminated mechanisms by which these effects may arise, centered on oxidative stress (the kind of injury that antioxidants help to defend against) – and many downstream effects of oxidative stress (membrane damage, blood brain barrier impairment with potential for brain swelling, inflammation, voltage gated calcium (and other) channel effects (which can also lead to oxidative stress), mitochondrial impairment, autoimmune activation, etc.)

Affected persons are a minority (in both settings), and in the nondiplomat setting, vulnerability has been tied to genetic variants less adept at defending against oxidative stress; and low concentrations of a critical antioxidant. In both groups, brain imaging studies resemble traumatic brain injury; and in both, at least some of those affected had prior head injury. Head injury may be a predisposing factor, as well as possible consequence.

Reprising findings also shown for research on other lucrative products with potential to cause harm in some, there is a powerful tie between study results and financial conflict of interest (e.g. source of study funding or conflicts by authors).

  1. There is precedent for use of microwaves in the diplomat setting. It is known that the US embassy in Moscow was microwaved for several decades beginning in the early 1950s (with some embassy staff citing – disputed – health problems). A 1976 NY Times story (“Moscow rays linked to U.S. bugging”) referenced speculation these were for surveillance; the Soviets claimed their purpose was to thwart U.S. listening devices on the roof of the embassy.

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Interventions Reduced Childhood Lead Levels, But Did Not Improve Neurobehavioral Outcomes

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Joseph M. Braun, MSPH, PhD  Associate Professor of Epidemiology Epidemiology Master's Program Director  Brown University School of Public Health

Dr. Braun

Joseph M. Braun, MSPH, PhD
Associate Professor of Epidemiology
Epidemiology Master’s Program Director
Brown University School of Public Health

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Childhood lead poisoning continues to be a problem in the United States and residential lead hazards are the major source of Pb exposure in young children. However, no studies have attempted to prevent exposure to lead hazards through primary prevention. Thus, we randomized 355 pregnant women to a comprehensive residential intervention and followed their children for up to 8 years to determine if childhood lead poisoning and associated cognitive deficits and behavior problems can be prevented.

Continue reading

Following Maria in Puerto Rico Over 1100 Deaths

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Alexis R. Santos-Lozada

Dr. Santos-Lozada

Dr. Alexis R. Santos-Lozada
Director, Graduate Program in Applied Demography
Assistant Teaching Professor, Department of Sociology and Criminology
Research Affiliate, Population Research Institute
College of Liberal Arts
Penn State University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Dr. Howard and I have been working on the topic of deaths attributable to Hurricane Maria since November, and provided rapid-response estimates by the end of November about the humanitarian crisis experienced by Puerto Ricans following the Hurricane.

Our main findings are that there are approximately 1,139 deaths in excess of historical patterns between September, October and November in Puerto Rico.

Continue reading

More Evidence UV Filters in Sunscreens Affect Marine Life

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
sunscreen creative commonsAdela J. Li, PhD

Research Affiliate
Wadsworth Center, Rm. D597
New York State Dept. of Health
Empire State Plaza
Albany, NY, 12201-0509
On the behalf of Dr. Kelvin Leung 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Most people love the beach. In order to block the sun’s damaging UV radiation, people generally slather on a thick layer of sunscreen against sunburn and skin cancer. Sunscreen is suggested to be re-applied every few hours regarding its effectiveness as well as being washed off into the water. These UV filters have been detected in the environment but most studies concluded that individual sunscreen chemicals pose no/low risk to animals or human. However, UV filters constitute a heterogeneous group of chemicals in sunscreens. We are wondering if combination of UV filters would induce higher toxicity than individual compounds, and whether these chemical interactions would develop over time, becoming increasingly dangerous to the living systems.

Our study found seven of the nine UV filters in Shenzhen waters, China — a rapidly urbanized city with over 20 popular recreational beaches, surprisingly, a reservoir and tap water. After exposing artemia to three dominant UV filters and then feeding these artemia to zebrafish adults, concentrations in both were up to 4 times higher when exposed to the mixtures than when exposed to only a single UV filter. A short-term of 25-day dietary exposure to the zebrafish adults did not appear to significantly influence early life stage development of the second generation; however, relatively long exposure over 47 days had significant adverse effects on embryo development. Continue reading

Waiting Room App Uses Selfies To Show Patients Effects of Sun Damage

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Startup Screen Dermatology APPDr. med. Titus Brinker
Head of App-Development // Clinician Scientist
Department of Translational Oncology
National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT)
Department of Dermatology
University Hospital Heidelberg
Heidelberg

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: ​While everyone in the dermatologic community appears to agree on the importance of UV-protection for skin cancer prevention, busy clinicians often lack time to address it with their patients.

Thus, the aim of this study was to make use of waiting rooms that almost every patient visiting a clinic spends time in and address this topic in this setting by the means of modern technology rather than clinicians time.

We used our free photoaging app “Sunface” which shows the consequences of bad UV protection vs. good UV protection on the users’ own 3D-animated selfie 5 to 25 years in the future and installed it on an iPad. The iPad was then centrally placed into the waiting room of our outpatient clinic on a table and had the Sunface App running permanently. The mirroring of the screen lead to a setting where every patient in the waiting room would see and eventually react to the selfie taken by one individual patient which was altered by the Sunface App.

Thus, the intervention was able to reach a large proportion of patients visiting our clinic: 165 (60.7%) of the 272 patients visiting our waiting room in the seven days the intervention was implemented either tried it themselves (119/72,12%) or watched another patient try the app (46/27,9%) even though our outpatient clinic is well organized and patients have to wait less than 20 minutes on average. Longer waiting times should yield more exposure to the intervention. Of the 119 patients who tried the app, 105 (88.2%) indicated that the intervention motivated them to increase their sun protection (74 of 83 men [89.2%]; 31 of 34 women [91.2%]) and to avoid indoor tanning beds (73 men [87.9%]; 31 women [91.2%]) and that the intervention was perceived as fun (83 men [98.8%]; 34 women [97.1%]).

Continue reading

Flushing May Not Get the Lead Out of Water Lines

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Pipe” by Sharon Mollerus is licensed under CC BY 2.0Adrienne Katner, DEnv
Assistant Research Professor of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences
LSU Health
New Orleans School of Public Health

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Ever since Flint, there’s been a lot of interest by the public in how to reduce exposures to lead in water. Several news articles suggested that many consumers and school officials have been considering flushing as a routine exposure prevention measure.

But before Flint, we had a much worse lead in water crisis which didn’t get as much public attention- an event which happened in Washington DC between 2001 and 2004. That event demonstrated that flushing for only 15–30 seconds would expose people to lead in cities which had lead service lines- these are water pipes which bring water from the main in the street to the home. A decade of follow up research confirmed that flushing protocols are highly dependent on variables that are difficult or impossible to control, including the length, material, condition and disturbance of water service lines, and water use patterns.

However, this knowledge has not translated into widespread changes in public health messaging. In fact, the EPA still requires water utilities to promote flushing as an exposure prevention measure. The original required messaging was to run the water for 15–30 seconds. EPA eventually recognized the need for longer flush times in homes with lead service lines, and they revised the regulations to allow utilities to modify flush times, but many water utilities continued to rely on the same messaging year after year.

We thought it was about time to test the recommendations in one of these cities- New Orleans, LA.  Best estimates from the mid-1990s suggested that lead service lines may comprise 65–80% of the city’s service line system. The city’s water utility encouraged residents to flush their taps for 30 sec to 2 min daily under normal use conditions.

New Orleans is unique in that extensive hurricane damage to water infrastructure has necessitated a historically unprecedented scale of infrastructure replacement.  While over ten years have passed since Hurricane Katrina, the rebuilding process is ongoing—city and utility officials are in the process of conducting 16,000 partial lead service lines replacements- activities which are well known to destabilize scale that has been intentionally built up in the pipes over time to reduce lead from leaching into the water. We had previously observed high water lead levels in homes after line replacements- along the order of 200 ppb. To put that into perspective, the EPA’s water standard for lead is 15 ppb. But even in undisturbed normal use homes we observed lead levels as high as 58 ppb.

To evaluate whether flushing could effectively reduce water lead levels, we collected over 1400 water samples from 376 residential sites. Samples were collected at first draw, and after incremental flushes of 30–45 s; 2.5–3 min; and 5.5–6 min. We also collected survey data to better understand water use habits, homes treatment systems, and flushing practices.

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Sunscreen Use During Childhood Reduces Melanoma Risk

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Sunscreen” by Tom Newby is licensed under CC BY 2.0Dr Caroline Watts  PhD

Post-doctoral Researcher
The University of Sydney.

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: The study analysed data collected from nearly 1700 young Australians who participated in the Australian Melanoma Family Study, a population-based case-control-family study that focused on people who had a melanoma under 40 years of age and compared them with people the same age who did not have a melanoma.

We examined sunscreen use during childhood and adulthood and its association with melanoma risk and found that compared to people who did not use sunscreen, regular sunscreen use during childhood reduced melanoma risk by 30-40 per cent.  Continue reading

Gym Tanners More Likely To Show Signs of “Tanning Addiction.”

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Sherry Pagoto, PhD
Director, UConn Center for mHealth and Social Media
President, Society of Behavioral Medicine
UConn Institute for Collaboration in Health, Interventions, and Policy
Professor, Department of Allied Health Sciences
University of Connecticut
Storrs, CT 06268

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Recent research has shown that while physical activity is associated with reduced risk for many cancers, it is associated with an increased risk for melanoma. We are not sure why this is the case, however, we have noticed that popular gym chains (e.g., Planet Fitness) often offer tanning beds, which are carcinogenic.

We surveyed over 600 people who had used a tanning bed at least once in their life to see how many had used tanning beds in gyms. About one-quarter had used tanning beds in gyms and those folks actually tanned significantly more than people who had not tanned in gyms.  Gym tanners were also more likely to show signs of “tanning addiction.”  We also found an association between tanning and physical activity, such that the people who were the most physically active were the heaviest tanners.  Continue reading

Simple Interventional Program Can Reduce Sunburns in Outdoor Workers

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Brad at Santa Monica Pier on Ferris Wheel” by Brad Cerenzia is licensed under CC BY 2.0Sonia Duffy, PhD, RN, FAAN
Professor, College of Nursing
The Ohio State University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Prior to conducting a tobacco cessation study with Operating Engineers, I conducted a survey of 498 Operating engineer and found that many of them were at risk for sun burning, which can lead to skin cancer.  So as a follow up study, I conducted a study to prevent sun burning, which randomized 357 Operating Engineers to were randomized to four interventions: education only; education and text message reminders; education and mailed sunscreen; and education, text message reminders, and mailed sunscreen.

Continue reading

Self-Driving Cars Can’t Eliminate All Accidents So How Safe is Safe Enough?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Subaru cars waiting for ride” by JackeOb is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0Dr. Peng Liu, Assistant Professor
Department of Industrial Engineering
College of Management and Economics
Tianjin University, China

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Self-driving vehicles promise to considerably reduce traffic crashes. However, they cannot eliminate all crashes.

On March 18, 2018, a female pedestrian was killed after being struck by an autonomous Uber vehicle in the self-driving mode in Arizona, USA. This fatal crash triggered a widespread public debate over the safety of self-driving vehicles. So, how safe is safe enough for self-driving vehicles?

Our findings show that our participants implicitly think self-driving vehicles should be four to five times as safe as the current human-driven vehicles. 

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Disadvantaged Communities More Likely to Have Increase in Greenhouse Gases Under Cap-and-Trade Policies

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Lara Cushing PhD Assistant Professor of Health Education, College of Health and Social Sciences San Francisco State University 1600 Holloway Avenue San Francisco, CA 94132

Dr. Cushing

Lara Cushing PhD
Assistant Professor of Health Education, College of Health and Social Sciences
San Francisco State University
San Francisco, CA 94132

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: More and more countries are adopting cap-and-trade programs as a way to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to address climate change. These efforts can lead to short-term health benefits because when you reduce greenhouse gas emissions, you usually also reduce emissions other harmful air pollutants that can cause cardiovascular disease, asthma and cancer.

However, environmental equity concerns were raised early on about whether cap-and-trade would result in localized differences in emissions reductions that would also result in uneven reductions in harmful co-pollutants, such as particulate matter and air toxics. This is because companies can trade pollution permits under a cap-and-trade system and choose to buy more permits rather than reduce their emissions locally. Prior studies show that low income communities and communities of color are much more likely to live near polluting industries.

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More Acorns = More Mice = More Lyme Disease

The white-footed mouse has been found to be a competent reservoir for the Lyme disease-causing spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi – Wikipedia image

MedicalResearch.com Interview
Richard S. Ostfeld, PhD

Distinguished Senior Scientist
Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
Millbrook, NY 12545, USA

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections occur in large portions of the eastern and Midwestern United States and adjacent Canada, and the geographic range is expanding rapidly, engulfing new communities every year.  Despite the observed increases in incidence rates and geographic range at the national level, considerable variation occurs across space and time, with persistent hot spots, colder spots, bad years, and not-as-bad years.  We undertook this long-term study (19 years) to ask what causes some places and years to be particularly risky and others not as risky, in terms of human exposure to tick-borne disease.  Because diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease are problematic and highly controversial, and because no vaccines or effective tick-control methods are currently available, we hoped that understanding the causes of high risk would facilitate prevention of human exposure.

We found that, in the oak-dominated forests that pervade the Lyme-disease-endemic zone, acorn production in the autumn is a strong leading indicator of Lyme disease risk two summers later.  Acorn production is associated with marked population increases of white-footed mice and eastern chipmunks, which use abundant acorns as a key over-winter food source, leading to population growth the following year.  Dense summer populations of mice and chipmunks provide the local population of blacklegged ticks with abundant sources of blood-meal hosts.  These small rodents are more permissive of successful tick feeding (other hosts kill many ticks by grooming them as they attempt to feed), and they are also the primary natural reservoirs of infection with the microbial agents causing Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and babesiosis.  Larval ticks emerging when rodents are highly abundant are highly likely to survive and acquire infection, molting the next year into infected nymph-stage ticks.  Bites from nymph-stage ticks are responsible for the great majority of tick-borne disease cases.  The one-year lag from acorns to rodent populations plus the one year lag from larval ticks biting rodents to nymphal ticks biting people together are responsible for the total two-year lag.

By using motion-sensitive cameras set in over 100 sites over two years, we were also able to ask whether the local community of mammal predators can affect human risk of exposure.  We found that sites with a diverse assemblage of predators, especially foxes, bobcats, and opossums, were associated with reduced tick infection prevalence with the agents of Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and babesiosis.  When these predators were absent, which sometimes occurred when coyotes displaced them, infection prevalence was significantly higher.  Infection prevalence was also lower in sites within extensive, unbroken forest, and higher in sites with small forest remnants.  Taken together, we determined that an understanding of the food webs within which ticks and pathogens dwell can strongly facilitate the ability to predict when and where risk will be high.  Acorns exert what ecologists call a “bottom-up” effect, whereas the predators enforce “top-down” control.  We found that the ticks were remarkably resilient to most weather-related factors.  However, when winter-spring weather was particularly warm and dry, tick abundance the following summer was reduced.  Cold winters did not kill off the ticks. 

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The ecology of tick-borne disease is incredibly complex, but still we can find big signals amongst the noise and predict risk with a good degree of confidence.  Predicting times and places of enhanced risk is particularly important given the frustrations within the public health community and the public at large over the slow pace of progress in improving diagnostic capabilities and treatments.  We are still relying fundamentally on individual efforts to prevent exposure using various self-protections, such as repellents, tick-checks, protective clothing and the like.  Targeting these efforts to times and places where risk is particularly high should help protect public health. 

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Long-term monitoring of tick populations is crucial for evaluating the importance of ecological variables, like wildlife abundance and weather, in determining risk of human exposure.  In addition, the longer we monitor these variables the more likely we are to see extreme events, which might play outsized roles.  Intensive monitoring like this is also crucial for detecting invasions by other species of tick that are important to public health. For instance, we expect lone star ticks to invade our area from the south, with unpredictable consequences for blacklegged ticks and human health.  We are also concerned about potential invasions by non-native ticks, like the long-horned tick that was recently detected in several eastern and Midwestern states to our south. 

No disclosures 

Citation:

Richard S. Ostfeld, Taal Levi, Felicia Keesing, Kelly Oggenfuss, Charles D. Canham. Tick-borne disease risk in a forest food web. Ecology, 2018; 99 (7): 1562 DOI: 1002/ecy.2386

 

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Shining Sunlight on Sunscreens and Sunburns

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Janet Prystowsky, MD

Dr. Janet Prystowsky, MD Dr. Prystowsky is a leading board-certified dermatologist in New York City.  In addition to her private practice, Dr. Prystowsky is a senior attending physician at Mount Sinai Roosevelt/St. Luke’s Medical Center.

Dr. Prystowsky

Dr. Prystowsky is a leading board-certified dermatologist in
New York City.  

In addition to her private practice, Dr. Prystowsky is a senior attending physician at Mount Sinai Roosevelt/St. Luke’s Medical Center.
http://www.janetprystowskymd.com/

MedicalResearch.com: Are all sunscreens created equally? 

Response: Not all sunscreens are created equally. Always choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that is water resistant if you are planning outdoor sports (with sweating) or swimming. Water resistance is a must when you are swimming or sweating (and who isn’t sweating on a hot summer day?)

However, you do not need water resistance if you are walking a few blocks in moderate temperatures. In that situation, a moisturizer sunscreen that is not water resistant is OK and may feel more comfortable on your skin.

As far as ingredients go, your best choice is a mineral based sunscreen with zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide.

Sunscreens that are not broad spectrum may protect you from sunburns but will not protect you from photodamage that can lead to premature aging and skin cancer.

Mineral based sunscreens are preferable over chemical sunscreens because the long-term effects of chemical sunscreens aren’t well understood. What we do know is that chemical sunscreens can absorb into our bloodstream and potentially have hormonally disruptive effects.  Continue reading

Common Diuretic HCTZ Associated With Increase Risk of Skin Cancers

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

"Hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ or HCT) is a diuretic medication often used to treat high blood pressure and swelling due to fluid build up" - Wikipedia

“Hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ or HCT) is a diuretic medication often used to treat high blood pressure and swelling due to fluid build up” – Wikipedia

Sidsel Arnspang Pedersen MD
Department of Public Health, Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmacy
Anton Pottegård PhD
Associate professor, Clinical Pharmacy
Odense University Hospital
University of Southern Denmark,

The following is based on results from three published papers in JAAD and JAMA Internal Medicine. (1–3)

 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Hydrochlorothiazide is one of the most frequently used diuretic and antihypertensive drugs in the United States and Western Europe. The drug is known to be photosensitizing and has previously been linked to lip cancer.4–6 Based on these previous findings, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified hydrochlorothiazide as ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans’ (class 2B).

This prompted us to investigate whether use of hydrochlorothiazide was associated to other UV dependent skin cancers, including non-melanoma skin cancer (i.e. basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)), cutaneous melanoma, as well as the more rare non-melanoma skin cancers Merkel cell carcinoma and malignant adnexal skin tumours.

Continue reading

Triclosan in Personal Care Products Can Induce Antibiotic Resistance

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr Jianhua Guo PhD ARC Future Fellow, Senior Research Fellow Advanced Water Management Centre University of Queensland Brisbane Australia

Dr. Jianhua Guo

Dr Jianhua Guo PhD
ARC Future Fellow, Senior Research Fellow
Advanced Water Management Centre
University of Queensland
Brisbane Australia

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: It was found that wastewater from residential areas has similar or even higher levels of antibiotic resistant bacteria and antibiotic resistance genes compared to hospitals, where you would expect greater antibiotic concentrations. Thus, we wonder whether non-antibiotic chemicals such as triclosan can directly induce antibiotic resistance, because triclosan could be ubiquitously detected in various water environments, like wastewater.

We found triclosan found in personal care products that we use daily could directly induce multi-drug resistance through mutation. The discovery should be a wake-up call to re-evaluate the potential impact of non-antibiotic chemicals on the dissemination of antibiotic resistance.

Continue reading

Animal Model Suggests BPA May Have Multigenerational Effect On Communication Patterns

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Cheryl Rosenfeld PhD DVS Professor of biomedical sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine investigator in the Bond Life Sciences Center, and  research faculty member for the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurobehavioral Disorders University of Missouri

Dr. Rosenfeld

Cheryl Rosenfeld PhD DVS
Professor of biomedical sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine
investigator in the Bond Life Sciences Center, and
research faculty member for the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurobehavioral Disorders
University of Missouri

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: My laboratory has been examining the effects of developmental exposure to the endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC), bisphenol A (BPA) on later neurobehavioral responses in a variety of rodent models, including California mice. This species is unique in that both parents rear the pups and they have monogamous social structure, similar to most human societies.

We had previously found that developmental exposure to BPA or another EDC, ethinyl estradiol (EE), disrupted later maternal and paternal care by F1 offspringto their F2 pups. Rodent pups use vocalizations both in the range of human hearing (20,000 hertz or below) and outside of the range of human hearing (20,000 hertz) to communicate with each other and their parents, and for the latter, such communications serve as a trigger to provide additional parental care in the form of nutrition or warmth to the pups.

Thus, in the current studies we sought to determine if exposure of the grandparents to BPA or EE could lead to disruptions in their grandoffspring (F2 generation) pup communications that might then at least partially account for the parental neglect of their F1 parents.

We found that early on female BPA pups took longer to call to their parents but later during the neonatal period they vocalized more than pups whose grandparents were not exposed to either chemical. Such vocalization changes could be due to multigenerational exposure to BPA and/or indicate that the pups are perceiving and responding to the reduced parental care and attempting but failing to signal to their F1 parents that they need more attention.

Continue reading

Both Honey and Carafate® May Slow Damage to Esophagus from Button Battery Ingestion

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

“button battery of Apple Remote” by tsurutakoji is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Example of Button Battery

Kris R. Jatana, MD, FAAP, FACS
Associate Professor
Director, Pediatric Otolaryngology Quality Improvement
Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery
Nationwide Children’s Hospital & Wexner Medical Center
at Ohio State University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?  

Response: More than 2,500 pediatric button battery ingestions occur annually in the United States. When lodged in the esophagus, rapid injury can occur from the tissue and saliva connecting the circuit of the battery. Serious injury can occur in a matter of hours. This results in a highly alkaline caustic injury that dissolves tissue, a process called liquefactive necrosis. There was a need for novel mitigation strategies to slow the progression of esophageal injury caused by presence of a button battery. This study aimed at identifying a palatable liquid that can be given at home or hospital setting to reduce esophageal injury until the battery can be removed. Continue reading