Decorative Drinking Glasses Can Contain Harmful Levels of Metals

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Themed Merchandised products affectedDr Andrew Turner

Reader in Environmental Science (Biogeochemistry and Toxicology)
School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Plymouth, UK

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

Response: We had a project looking at toxic metals in consumer plastics and paints and as part of the study analysed decorated glassware product. With respect to the latter, and from a health perspective, it is concerning that metals that have been banned or restricted by so many industries over the past few decades are still used to decorate contemporary drinking glassware. Drinking glasses that are most hazardous are those where the décor extends into the lip area within 2 cm of the rim, and those that target children.

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Adulterated Proprietary Chinese Medicines Pose Serious Health Hazards

“Pills” by Victor is licensed under CC BY 2.0MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Tony Wing Lai Mak , MBChB, MBA, FRCPath, FRCPA, FHKCPath, FHKAM(Path 

Hospital Authority Toxicology Reference Laboratory
Princess Margaret Hospital, Hong Kong

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

Response: Proprietary Chinese medicines (pCMs) and health products are generally believed to be natural and safe. However, the safety of pCMs and health products has been compromised by the illicit practice of adulteration with undeclared drugs. Such adulteration can have serious and even fatal consequences. Previous reports of pCM and health product adulteration were mainly routine surveillance data or case reports/series with a small number of affected patients.

The present study in Hong Kong, to our knowledge, is the largest case series that reports an overview of the use of various adulterated Proprietary Chinese medicine and health products and the resulting adverse effects. From 2005 to 2015, we have identified 404 cases involving the use of 487 adulterated pCMs or health products with a total of 1234 adulterants detected. The adulterants consisted of approved drugs, banned drugs, drug analogues and animal thyroid tissue.

The six most common categories of adulterants detected were nonsteroidal ant-inflammatory drugs (18%), anorectics (15%), corticosteroids (14%), diuretics and laxatives (11%), oral antidiabetic agents (10%), and erectile dysfunction drugs (6%). Sibutramine, an anorectic that has been withdrawn from the market owing to its association with increased cardiovascular events and strokes, was the most common adulterant identified. A significant proportion of patients (65.1%) had adverse effects that were attributable to these illicit products, including 14 severe and two fatal cases. These illicit Proprietary Chinese medicine and health products pose severe health hazards to the public.

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Folic Acid May Reduce Risk of Autism Associated With Pesticide Exposure During Pregnancy

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Rebecca J. Schmidt, M.S., Ph.D.  Assistant Professor, Public Health Sciences UC Davis California

Dr. Schmidt

Rebecca J. Schmidt, M.S., Ph.D. 
Assistant Professor, Public Health Sciences
UC Davis California

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

Response: Maternal folic acid taken near conception has been linked to reduced risk for autism in the child in previous studies.

Separate studies show that exposure to pesticides during pregnancy is associated with increased risk for autism.

Animal studies demonstrate that folic acid and other B-vitamins can attenuate effects of certain environmental contaminants, including pesticides.

This case-control study examined combined maternal folic acid and pesticide exposures in relation to autism in the child.

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Adverse Birth Outcomes and Agricultural Pesticide Use in the San Joaquin Valley of California

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Ashley Larsen, PhD Assistant professor Bren School of Environmental Science & Management University of California, Santa Barbara

Dr. Larsen

Ashley Larsen, PhD
Assistant professor
Bren School of Environmental Science & Management
University of California, Santa Barbara

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

Response: The relationship between pesticides and adverse birth outcomes has been recognized as an important question for quite some time, and there have been many good studies on the topic. Since randomly exposing people to different levels of pesticides is clearly unethical, researchers focused on the health consequences of non-occupational pesticide exposure often have to choose between detailed studies that follow a couple hundred or couple thousand individuals through pregnancy or larger scale studies that use easier to observe, but less accurate metrics of pesticide exposure (e.g. nearby crops or crop types). Here we tried to provide complementary insight by bridging the gap between detail and scale using detailed pesticide use data and individual birth certificate records for hundreds of thousands of births in an agriculturally dominated region of California. While we found negative effects of pesticide use on birth outcomes including low birth weight, preterm birth and birth abnormalities, these effects were generally in the magnitude of a 5-9% increase in probability of an adverse outcome, and only observed for individuals exposed to very high levels of pesticides.

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Arsenic Still Found In Infant Rice Products

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Antonio J. Signes-Pastor, PhD Institute for Global Food Security Queen’s University Belfast Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom, Department of Epidemiology, Geisel School of Medicine Dartmouth College Lebanon, NH

Dr. Signes-Pastor

Dr. Antonio J. Signes-Pastor, PhD
Institute for Global Food Security
Queen’s University Belfast
Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom,
Department of Epidemiology, Geisel School of Medicine
Dartmouth College Lebanon, NH

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

Response: Inorganic arsenic is a human carcinogen, which has also been associated with several adverse health effects including neurological, cardiovascular, respiratory, and metabolic outcomes. Early life exposure is of particular concern since it may adversely impact on lifetime health outcomes. If low inorganic arsenic drinking water is available the main source of exposure is the diet, especially rice and rice-based products, which are widely used during weaning and to feed infants and young children. In order to reduce exposure, the EU has recently regulated (1st January 2016) the inorganic arsenic maximum level of 0.1 mg/kg for rice products addressed to infants and young children. This level is also under consideration by the US FDA.

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Excessive Rainfall May Be Linked To Autism Through Nitrous Oxide Exposure

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Keith Fluegge BS
Institute of Health and Environmental Research (IHER) Cleveland
Graduate School, The Ohio State University, Columbus
Ohio

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

Response: The research letter discusses the possible link between rainfall precipitation and risk of autism. Earlier research suggested a link, although there remained quite a bit of skepticism surrounding the findings at the time.

The purpose of the study was to briefly highlight the role of environmental exposure to the agricultural and combustion pollutant, nitrous oxide (N2O), as a possible etiological factor in neurodevelopmental disorders. We have published a series of epidemiological investigations, reviews, and correspondences discussing this possibility. In my continued research on this topic, I learned that rainfall and extreme weather-related events, like hurricanes, drive N2O emissions, especially from nitrogen amended soils. Exposure to this particular air pollutant may, therefore, plausibly undergird the relationship between rainfall precipitation and risk of autism.

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Exposure to BPA Substitute, BPS, Multiplies Breast Cancer Cells

Sumi Dinda

Dr. Sumi Dinda

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Sumi Dinda, PhD, NRP, IC.

Associate Professor
Biomedical Diagnostic and Therapeutic Sciences,
School of Health Sciences and
Adjunct Associate Professor
Department of Biological Sciences
School of Health Sciences
Oakland University
Rochester, MI 48309.


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

Response: Bisphenol-S (BPS), a substitute for bisphenol-A (BPA), has been suggested to be an endocrine disrupting compound interfering with normal hormonal activity. This bisphenol analogue is found in plastic substitutes, paper currency, and most products marked “BPA free.” Endocrine disrupting compounds interfere with the normal hormonal activity in the body.

Bisphenols, specifically, disrupt the proper functioning of estrogen receptors, such as ERα causing interference with the normal activity of the hormone estrogen. Studies suggest BPS induces ERα pathways via its estrogen-mimicking properties in the body causing increased cell proliferation resulting in increased breast cancer risk. Despite the hope of a safer substitute, studies have shown that BPS exhibits similar estrogenic activity compared to its analogue BPA, due to their structural commonalities.

BRCA1 is a commonly mutated gene in breast cancer; therefore, it is also important to study the effects of BPS on the expression of this protein. The potency of the endocrine disrupting abilities of BPS compared to BPA could show whether BPS is a suitable alternative to BPA in many everyday products.

The results of this study may contribute to the understanding of the relationship between ERα, BRCA1 expression and Bisphenol-S in breast cancer treatment and prevention.

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Pyrethroid Pesticides Linked To Earlier Puberty in Boys

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jing Liu, Ph.D. Associate Professor College of Environmental & Resource Sciences Zhejiang University Hangzhou, China

Dr. Jing Liu

Jing Liu, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
College of Environmental & Resource Sciences
Zhejiang University
Hangzhou, China

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

Response: In addition to consistent observations of earlier pubertal onset in female since late 19th century, acceleration in male pubertal development also has been reported in more recent studies. Improved nutrition, health and living conditions may contribute to the secular trend towards an earlier pubertal onset. However, the potential role of environmental agents, specifically endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), also has been emphasized.

Pyrethroids are among the currently used pesticide classes placed on the list of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as potential EDCs. Pyrethroids are one of the top 10 classes of pesticides and account for greater than 30% of global insecticide usage. Increased human exposure to pyrethroids is thought to occur mainly via residues in diets and indoor residential use. The metabolites of pyrethroids have been widely identified in urine samples of adults, children and adolescents worldwide and the detection rate is usually more than 60% in human populations.

Here, we recognize pyrethroids as a new environmental contributor to the observed secular trend toward earlier male sexual maturity. For the first time to our knowledge, this work reveal a significant and positive association between pyrethroids exposure and gonadotropins levels in 463 Chinese boys, in which a 10% increase in 3-PBA (a common urinary metabolite of pyrethroids) is associated with more than 2% increase in both LH and FSH. Boys with increased urinary levels of 3-PBA have a significantly increased risk of earlier pubertal development, in which the odds of being in an advanced testicular volume and genitalia stage are increase by 113% and 268%, respectively.

Because it is difficult to test the direct causality of environmental risk factors in humans, we further sought to identify in animals how pyrethroids alter the timing of puberty. Postnatal exposure to a widely used pyrethroid pesticide, cypermethrin, can accelerate pubertal timing and induce circulating levels of gonadotropins and testosterone in male mice. Our findings reveal the activation of voltage-gated calcium channels pathway in pituitary gonadotropes and testicular Leydig cells as a newly discovered mechanism of pyrethroid-induced early pubertal development in the male.

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Environmental Pyrethroids May Be Associated With Behavioral Problems in Children

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Professor Jean-Francois Viel
Department of Epidemiology and Public Health
University Hospital
Rennes, France

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

Response: The use of pyrethroid insecticides has increased substantially throughout the world over the past several decades, replacing organophosphate and carbamate insecticides, because of their chemical potency against many pests, their relatively low mammalian toxicity and their favorable environmental profiles. However, despite the neurotoxicity of these insecticides at high doses, the potential impact of environmental exposure to pyrethroid insecticides on child neurodevelopment has only just started to receive attention.

Using a longitudinal design (PELAGIE mother-child cohort), we were able to assess pyrethroid exposure (trough urine concentrations) both prenatally and during childhood (at 6 years of age). We showed that increased prenatal concentrations of one pyrethroid metabolite (cis-DCCA, a metabolite of permethrin, cypermethrin and cyfluthrin) were associated with internalising difficulties (children showing behaviours that are inhibited and over-controlled).

Moreover, for childhood 3-PBA (a common metabolite of up to 20 synthetic pyrethroid insecticides) concentrations, a positive association was observed with externalising difficulties (children showing behaviours that are under-controlled and having generally a more challenging temperament).

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Thyroid Hormone Disruptors Found In Household Cats and Dust

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jana Weiss PhD Department of Environmental Science and Analytical Chemistry Stockholm University

Dr. Jana Weiss

Jana Weiss PhD
Department of Environmental Science and Analytical Chemistry
Stockholm University

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

Response: In an earlier publication, we could see an association between elevated concentrations of brominated flame retardants (BFR) in the blood of cats with developed Feline hyperthyroidism, compared to healthy cats (Norrgran et al 2015, ES&T 49:5107-5014). To establish the exposure pathway we now took paired samples from healthy cats and dust from their households. We also analysed the cats food to include another major exposure pathway. In total 17 families participated. They lived in houses in the countryside or in apartments in the city. All families had kids under 12 years of age living at home, thus representing a household with typical child products. The dust was sampled from the living room, the child’s room and from the adult’s bedrooms. We could not see any difference in the composition of compounds between the rooms, but we saw that levels were in general higher in the living room compared to the other two rooms. This was expected as many products being treated with BFRs can be found in the living room.

We could see that higher levels of some  brominated flame retardants in the dust were correlated to elevated levels in the cat’s blood. Therefore, this hypothesized exposure pathways is now statistically established. We could also confirm cat food to be the major exposure pathway for naturally brominated compounds coming from the marine food web, such as6-OH-BDE47, a known thyroid hormone disruptor. Continue reading

Smokers Who Switch Completely To E-Cigs Reduce Their Exposure to Toxins

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr Lion Shahab
MA (Oxon) MSc MSc PhD CPsychol AFBPsS PGCLTHE
Senior Lecturer in Health Psychology
Department of Behavioural Science and Health
University College London
London 

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

Response: To date most studies on e-cigs have either looked at the product itself, i.e. analysed vapour/aerosol or e-liquid, or investigated its effects on animal and cell models. Only very few studies have looked at actual body-level exposure in users of e-cigarettes to evaluate their safety, and this study is the first to explore this in long-term real-life users of e-cigs.

We find that compared with people who continue to smoke conventional cigarettes, those who switch over completely to using e-cigarettes long-term (1.5 years) dramatically reduce their exposure to cancer-causing chemicals to levels observed in users of nicotine replacement products like nicotine patch or gum (which are known to be safe when used long-term).

Our results also suggest that while e-cigarettes are not only safer, the amount of nicotine they provide is not noticeably different to conventional cigarettes. This can help people to stop smoking altogether by dealing with their cravings in a safer way.

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

Response: The public has been receiving very mixed signals about the safety of e-cigarettes, with some reports claiming to show that they are as harmful as smoking. These reports have been based on studies that bear little relationship to exposure of e-cigarette users in the real world.

We report the first study that has actually measured the intake of potentially harmful chemicals in e-cigarette users, and compared this with people using licensed nicotine products (e.g. nicotine patches), and cigarettes. This study should reassure smokers who are thinking of switching to an e-cigarette that if they manage to cut out cigarettes altogether, they should see a large benefit in terms of their health.

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

Response: The next step would be would be to follow smokers over a longer period of time who switch over to using e-cigarettes and measure potential harm and risks not only in relation to cancer but also lung function and cardiovascular health.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: None of the other authors have received funding from an e-cigarette company or any organisation acting for one.

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Citation:

Shahab L, Goniewicz ML, Blount BC, Brown J, McNeill A, Alwis KU, et al. Nicotine, Carcinogen, and Toxin Exposure in Long-Term E-Cigarette and Nicotine Replacement Therapy Users: A Cross-sectional Study. Ann Intern Med. [Epub ahead of print 7 February 2017] doi: 10.7326/M16-1107

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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By Interacting with Melatonin, Insecticides Could Disrupt Circadian Rhythm

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Rajendram Rajnarayanan PhD Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology Assistant Professor Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences University of Buffalo

Dr. Rajendram Rajnarayanan

Rajendram Rajnarayanan PhD
Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology
Assistant Professor
Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
University of Buffalo

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

Response: Human exposure to environmental chemicals i.e., insecticides and pesticides increases the risk of various diseases by directly interacting with proteins or signaling pathways in the endocrine or neuroendocrine system. In this study, our teamscience effort integrating big-data computation with receptor pharmacology, report for the first time that carbamate insecticides found in household and agricultural products interact with human melatonin receptors.

At UB we have generated a database, we call it Chem2Risk, which contains about four million chemicals reported to have some level of toxicity. From those, after grouping the chemicals in clusters according to their similarity, we found several with potential to mimic melatonin. Wet-lab experiments confirmed that these chemicals indeed interact with melatonin receptors and have the potential to alter melatonin signaling. Continue reading

Deadly Batteries: Number of Serious Button Battery Incidents Still Not Decreasing

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Toby Litovitz, MD
Executive & Medical Director, National Capital Poison Center
Professor of Emergency Medicine, Georgetown University
Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine
The George Washington University
Washington DC

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

Response: Over the past decade, a dramatic and persistent rise in the severity of swallowed batteries has been attributed to increased use of 20 mm diameter lithium coin cell batteries. With its larger diameter compared to traditional button cells, these cells get stuck in the esophagus of small children. There the greater voltage (3 V for lithium coin cells rather than 1.5 V for traditional button batteries), causes these cells to rapidly generate an external current that hydrolyzes tissue fluids, generating hydroxide and causing severe burns, injury and even death. Severe or fatal complications include perforations of the esophagus, tracheoesophageal fistulas, recurrent laryngeal nerve damage leading to vocal cord paralysis, spondylodiscitis, strictures and aortoesophageal fistulas – the latter nearly always fatal.

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Epidemic of Wound Botulism From Black Tar Heroin

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Guy Soo Hoo, MD
West Los Angeles VA Medical Center
Los Angeles, CA

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

Response: Wound botulism occurs as a result of infection by material contaminated with C. botulinum. While typically associated with trauma and crush injury, it is also an infection associated with injection drug users especially with “skin popping”. Black tar heroin is an especially common vehicle for the development of wound botulism. Black tar heroin is the predominant form of heroin used in the western United States and there has been an epidemic of wound botulism cases associated with black tar heroin users especially in California. In fact, the vast majority of wound botulism cases in California occurs in injection drug users, specifically those who inject the drug subcutaneously or intramuscularly.

The typical presentation in wound botulism in an acute neurologic illness with cranial nerve palsies, flaccid descending paralysis. Respiratory failure requiring mechanical ventilation may occur and may require an extended period of ventilator support for recovery. A high index of suspicion as well as general supportive care is needed for optimal treatment and recovery. Optimal treatment includes wound debridement, early administration of botulinum antitoxin and penicillin therapy. This case is unique in that the initial presentation was bilateral vocal cord paralysis and cranial nerve function was initially intact. The patient subsequently developed a flaccid paralysis that included cranial nerve palsies, functional quadriplegia and respiratory failure. He recovered to be discharged to a rehabilitation facility about six weeks after his initial presentation.

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Cost Analysis of Exposure to Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals in US

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Teresa Attina, MD, PhD
Research Scientist
NYU Langone School of Medicine
Department of Pediatrics
New York, NY 10016

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

Response: Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) have been recently documented to contribute substantially to disease and dysfunction in the European Union (EU), with an annual estimated cost of €163 billion, corresponding to 1.28% of EU Gross Domestic Product. Our current study documents even greater annual costs in the US, $340 billion, corresponding to 2.33% of US GDP. These findings speak to the large health and economic benefits to regulating EDCs, which should be weighed against the cost of safer alternatives.

The different costs between the EU and the US are due to different exposure levels to EDCs, and policy predicts exposure. US costs are higher mainly because of the widespread use of brominated flame retardants in furniture, whereas Europe restricted its use in 2008. Americans have much higher levels, such that the average American has a serum level of these chemicals that would be in the top 5% of Europeans. As a result, children born to pregnant women have lower IQs, such that more children suffer from intellectual disability.

On the other hand, in Americans, levels of certain pesticides in foods are much lower due to the Food Quality Protection Act, which requires additional safety thresholds to protect pregnant women and children from exposure. The costs of pesticide exposures in the US were much lower ($12.6 billion) compared to Europe ($121 billion) because fewer children suffer loss of IQ as a result.

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Children Living In HUD Housing Had Lower Blood Lead Levels Than Those Not Receiving Housing Assistance

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Katherine Ahrens PhD Office of Population Affairs Rockville, MD 20852

Dr. Katherine Ahrens

Dr. Katherine Ahrens PhD
Office of Population Affairs
Rockville, MD 20852

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

Response: Lead exposure among children is linked to many adverse effects on health and cognitive development, which can be irreversible. The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) has linked 1999 to 2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data to administrative data for the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) largest rental assistance programs (1999 through 2014), and these linked data allow calculation of the first-ever national blood lead level estimates among children living in HUD-assisted housing. Here we compare blood lead levels among children 1 to 5 years of age in 2005 to 2012 who received housing assistance during 1999 to 2014 with levels among children who did not receive housing assistance during that period.

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Unsafe levels of toxic chemicals found in drinking water for six million Americans

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Courtney C. Carignan PhD Research Fellow Department of Environmental Health Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Dr. Courtney Carignan

Courtney C. Carignan PhD
Research Fellow
Department of Environmental Health
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

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

Response: We used mapping technology coupled with drinking water data from EPA to identify military bases, airports, industrial sites, and wastewater treatment plants as major sources of PFOS and PFOA contamination in drinking water. These measurements suggest that at least six million people have drinking water that exceeds the recent EPA health advisorylevels for PFOA and PFOS.

These are chemicals that have been historically manufactured in the US and used widely in consumer products such as stain-proof carpeting, non-stick pans and aqueous firefighting foam. They have been replaced with new generation of shorter-chain fluorinated chemicals, which also do not break down in the environment and may be similarly toxic.

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Counterfeit Xanax Contained Toxic Amounts of Opioid Fentanyl

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Ann M. Arens, MD
California Poison Control Center
San Francisco, CA 94110

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

Response: Prescription opioid abuse is a significant public health threat that has garnered the attention of health care providers throughout medicine. With efforts to curb the number of prescriptions for opioid pain medications, users may begin to purchase prescription medications from illegal sources.

Our study reports a series of patients in the San Francisco Bay Area who were exposed to counterfeit alprazolam (Xanax®) tablets found to contain large amounts of fentanyl, an opioid 100 times more potent than morphine, and in some cases etizolam, a benzodiazepine. The California Poison Control System – San Francisco division identified eight patients with unexpected serious health effects after exposure to the tablets including respiratory depression requiring mechanical ventilation, pulmonary edema, cardiac arrest, and one fatality. Patients reportedly purchased the tablets from drug dealers, and were unaware of their true contents. In one case, a 7 month-old infant accidentally ingested a counterfeit tablet dropped on the floor by a family member.

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Most Gymnasts Regularly Exposed to Flame Retardants

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Courtney Carignan PhD Research Fellow Department of Environmental Health Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Dr. Courtney Carignan

Courtney Carignan PhD
Research Fellow
Department of Environmental Health
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

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

Response: We collected urine samples from a team of 11 collegiate gymnasts before and after a gymnastics practice. There were higher levels of flame retardants in samples collected after practice compared to before, indicating that the gymnastics training environment is a source of exposure to these chemicals. We previously measured elevated levels of flame retardants in the air and dust of the gym. Foam equipment appears to be the primary source of flame retardants to the gym, especially foam in the loose foam pit, which is used by gymnasts to learn new skills safely.

Over the past several decades, flame retardant chemical have been used in foam, such as in upholstered furniture, and electronics. They easily escape these products and enter the air, dust and our bodies. Most Americans have flame retardant chemicals in their bodies. There is growing concern about the harmful effects of many of these chemicals such that some have been phased out of use.

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Continual Decrease in Blood Lead Level in Americans

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Prof Bernard M Y Cheung and co-authors
MBBChir, PhD(Cantab), FRCP, FRCPE
Sun Chieh Yeh Heart Foundation Professor in Cardiovascular Therapeutics
Department of Medicine
University of Hong Kong
Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong

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

Response: Lead is toxic even at low levels and affects neurodevelopment in children. There has been a long-term effort in the US to reduce exposure to lead in the environment. We analyzed the trend in blood lead levels in the US, using data on 63890 Americans who took part in the National Health Nutrition and Examination Survey (NHANES) from 1999 to 2014.

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Laundry Pods Present Serious Risk of Poisoning To Children

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Thomas Swain, MPH Research Assistant, The Center for Injury Sciences, Division of Trauma, Burns and Surgical Critical Care, Department of Surgery University of Alabama at Birmingham Birmingham, AL 35294

Tom Swain

Thomas Swain, MPH
Research Assistant, The Center for Injury Sciences,
Division of Trauma, Burns and Surgical Critical Care,
Department of Surgery
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Birmingham, AL 35294

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

Response: Case reports show that the number of laundry pod detergent related cases is increasing rapidly and children are disproportionately affected by pod detergent. Pod detergent is highly concentrated and contained in a water-soluble membrane. Prior research of pod laundry detergent did not include regular, non-pod detergent; this exclusion rendered cases and severity of cases between the two incomparable. This study, comparing regular laundry detergent and pod detergent, from 2012-2014 in the United States, using national data from emergency department visits, found that children under 5 accounted for 93.8% of pod detergent related exposures and 71.8% of non-pod exposures. Importantly, 71.8% of pod exposures were diagnosed as poisoning while 72.2% of non-pod exposures were diagnosed as contact dermatitis. Those exposed to pods were 4.02 times as likely to be hospitalized, a marker for severe injury, when compared to non-pod detergent (OR: 4.02; 95% CI: 1.96-8.24).

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Children in Some US Communities Still Have Very High Risk of Lead Poisoning

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Leland McClure, PhD Director in Medical Affairs for Quest Diagnostics Fellow of the American Board of Forensic Toxicology

Dr. Leland McClure

Leland McClure, PhD
Director in Medical Affairs for Quest Diagnostics
Fellow of the American Board of Forensic Toxicology

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

Dr. McClure: Quest Diagnostics is the leading provider of diagnostic information services, providing clinical lab testing to about one in three American adults each year. As a result, we’ve amassed the largest private clinical laboratory database in the United States, based on 20 billion data points from lab testing. Quest uses this data (in de-identified, HIPAA compliant form) to perform research — called Quest Diagnostics Health Trends(TM) — to reveal insights on important health issues to inform clinical patient management and health policy. Other Health Trends reports have focused on diabetes, pregnancy and influenza, among others.

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Continued Use of Marijuana in Pregnancy is Risk for Both Mother and Baby

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Professor Claire Roberts PhD Professor Claire Roberts Robinson Research Institute Adelaide University

Prof. Claire Roberts


Professor Claire Roberts PhD

Robinson Research Institute
Adelaide University

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

Dr. Roberts: Our research aimed to identify novel risk factors for the four main complications of pregnancy;

  • preeclampsia where the mother gets high blood pressure and her kidneys don’t work properly,
  • preterm birth which is delivery before 37 weeks of gestation,
  • small for gestational age and
  • gestational diabetes.

    We have studied over 5500 pregnant women in 6 centres in 4 countries, Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Ireland. We have identified a number of factors that contribute to these major pregnancy complications. However, in this paper we have focused on well known risk factors for pregnancy complications including maternal cigarette smoking, BMI and socioeconomic status. To these we added maternal use of marijuana before pregnancy, in first trimester, at 15 weeks and at 20 weeks gestation. After adjusting the data for the other factors, we found that continued maternal marijuana use at 20 weeks gestation is strongly associated with spontaneous pre-term birth independent of maternal cigarette smoking. Women who continued to use marijuana at 20 weeks’ gestation were over 5 times more likely to deliver preterm than women who did not use marijuana. Previous studies have shown conflicting evidence but none have accounted for maternal cigarette smoking.

Importantly, not only did continued use of marijuana increase risk for preterm birth but it also made these births 5 weeks earlier on average with a greater number of women delivering very preterm. That is much more dangerous for the baby who inevitably would require admission to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Earlier delivery would be expected to increase the baby’s risk for dying and having long term disabilities.

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Prenatal BPA Exposure Linked To Childhood Obesity

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr-Lori-A-Hoepner

Dr. Lori Hoepner

Lori A. Hoepner, DrPH
Department of Environmental Health Sciences
Columbia University
New York, NY 10032

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

Dr. Hoepner: The Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health was funded starting in 1998.  Pregnant African American and Dominican mothers residing in Northern Manhattan and the South Bronx were enrolled from 1998 to 2006, and mothers and their children have been followed since this time.  We collected urine samples from the pregnant mothers in their third trimester and from the children at ages 3 and 5.  At ages 5 and 7 we measured the height and weight of the children, and at age 7 we also measured body fat and waist circumference.

MedicalResearch.com:  What are the main findings?

Dr. Hoepner:  We found a significant association between increased prenatal exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA) and increases in childhood body fat measures of waist circumference and percent body fat at age 7.  Our research builds on earlier findings of an association between prenatal exposure to BPA and body fat in children up to age 4, and this is the first study to report an association at age 7.

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Study Links Well-Water Arsenic To Increased Bladder Cancer Risk in New England

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Debra Silverman Sc.D Branch Chief and Senior Investigator in the Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology & Genetics National Cancer Institute

Dr. Debra Silverman

Dr. Debra Silverman Sc.D
Branch Chief and Senior Investigator in the Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology & Genetics
National Cancer Institute

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

Dr. Silverman: We know that bladder cancer mortality rates have been elevated in northern New England for at least five decades. Incidence patterns in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont are similar—about 20% higher than those for the United States overall. Elevated rates have been observed in both men and women, suggesting the role of a shared environmental etiologic factor.

A unique feature of northern New England is that a high proportion of the population uses private wells as their primary source of drinking water. The well water may contain low-to-moderate levels of arsenic. There are two possible sources of this arsenic contamination:

  • Naturally occurring arsenic from geological sources (released from rock deep in the earth)
  • Leaching of arsenic-based pesticides used on food crops many years ago. From the 1920s through the 1960s there was extensive agricultural use of arsenic-based pesticides. These compounds were used on food crops such as blueberries, apples and potatoes. Residue from the treatments may have leached into the ground water.

Intake of water containing high levels of arsenic is an established cause of bladder cancer, largely based on studies conducted in highly exposed populations. However, emerging evidence suggests that low-to-moderate levels of exposure may also increase bladder cancer risk.

To explore possible reasons for the excess incidence of bladder cancer in northern New England, we conducted a large, comprehensive population-based case-control study in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. We examined the role of known and suspected bladder cancer risk factors, with a focus on private well water consumption and arsenic levels in drinking water.

The major cause of bladder cancer is cigarette smoking. Some occupational exposures (e.g., exposure to metalworking fluids such as that experienced by metalworkers and some types of machine operators) are also associated with elevated risk. However, smoking and occupational exposures do not appear to explain the New England bladder cancer excess.

This study was funded and carried out by researchers in the NCI Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics in collaboration with the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, the Departments of Health for Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, and the US Geological Survey.

We reported that heavy consumption of drinking water from private dug wells (which are shallow—less than 50 feet deep—and susceptible to contamination from manmade sources than drilled wells), established prior to 1960 (when arsenic-based pesticides were widely used), may have contributed to the longstanding bladder cancer excess in northern New England.

We saw that cumulative arsenic exposure from all water sources showed an increasing risk with increasing exposure (exposure-response relationship). Among the highest exposed participants, risk was twice that of the lowest exposure group. (Cumulative arsenic exposure is a measure of the average daily arsenic intake by number of days of arsenic exposure.)

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Aerial Pesticides Linked to Developmental Delay and Autism Spectrum Disorder

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Steven Daniel Hicks, M.D., Ph.D. Penn State Hershey Medical Group Hope Drive, Pediatrics Hershey, PA 17033

Dr. Steven Hicks

Steven Daniel Hicks, M.D., Ph.D.
Penn State Hershey Medical Group Hope Drive, Pediatrics
Hershey, PA 17033 

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

Dr. Hicks:  This research was inspired by results of the CHARGE study (examining environmental influences on autism) which showed that specific pesticides (including pyrethroids) increased the risk of autism and developmental delay, particularly when mothers were exposed in the 3rdtrimester.

We recognized that the department of health sprayed pyrethroids from airplanes in a specific area near our regional medical center every summer to combat mosquito borne illnesses. We asked whether children from those areas had increased rates of autism and developmental delay. We found that they were about 25% more likely to be diagnosed with a developmental disorder at our medical center than children from control regions without aerial spraying of pyrethroids.

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More Than 30 Poison Control Calls Per Day For Pediatric Laundry Pod Exposures

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Gary Smith, MD PhD Director, Center for Injury Research and Policy Nationwide Children's Hospital

Dr. Gary Smith

Dr. Gary Smith, MD PhD
Director, Center for Injury Research and Policy
Nationwide Children’s Hospital

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

Dr. Smith: Laundry detergent packets are relatively new to the U.S. market (introduced in 2012). As their popularity has increased, so have calls to poison centers for detergent packet exposures. The study analyzed calls to poison centers and compared exposures to young children from dishwasher and laundry detergent packets as well as traditional (liquid and powder) dishwasher and laundry detergents.

Incidents related to laundry detergent packets saw the biggest rise – increasing 17% over the two-year study period. Poison control centers received more than 30 calls a day on average about a child who had been exposed to a laundry detergent packet, which is about one call about every 45 minutes. Claims made by others that the rate of exposures is decreasing are misleading – these claims are based on an inappropriate use of numbers.

Children exposed to laundry detergent packets were significantly more likely to be admitted to a healthcare facility or have a serious medical outcome than those exposed to other types of detergent. They were also more likely to have serious clinical effects. Coma, pulmonary edema, respiratory arrest, and death were only observed among children exposed to laundry detergent packets.

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Chemical UV Filters May Impair Fertility By Interfering With Progesterone Signaling

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Anders Rehfeld MD, PhD Student
University of Copenhagen
Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences
Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Copenhagen, Denmark

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

DrRehfeld: Human fertility is declining in many areas of the world and the reason is largely unknown.

Our study shows that 44% tested chemical UV filters can induce calcium signals in human sperm cells, thereby mimicking the effect of progesterone and possibly interfering with the fertilizing ability of human sperm cells. Progesterone-induced calcium signaling, and the sperm functions it triggers, is absolutely essential for the human sperm cell to normally fertilize the human egg.

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UCLA Expert Discusses Campbell’s Decision to Remove BPA from Cans

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Nancy L. Wayne, PhD Professor, Department of Physiology UCLA School of Medicine Los Angeles, CA 90095

Prof. Nancy Wayne

Nancy L. Wayne, PhD
Professor, Department of Physiology
UCLA School of Medicine
Los Angeles, CA 90095

MedicalResearch.com editor’s note: Campbell Soup Co. will stop using the chemical Bisphenol A in its canned products by the middle of 2017 due to consumers concerns that BPA raises the risk of cancer, brain damage and hormonal problems.

Professor Nancy Wayne, is a reproductive endocrinologist and professor of physiology at UCLA. She has conducted extensive research on the health effects of the endocrine disruptors bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical widely used by manufacturers to strengthen plastic, and its replacement, bisphenol S (BPS). Professor Wayne was kind of enough to discuss the implications of the Campbell Soup Co. announcement for the readers of MedicalResearch.com. 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this announcement?  What are the real and potential harmful effects of BPAs?

Prof. Wayne: There has been increasing research publications on the impact of BPA on body functions in animal models, human cells in culture, and associations between high levels of BPA in human urine samples and dysfunctions and diseases. a pubmed (biomedical article search engine) keyword search of bisphenol + BPA showed 39 articles published in the 1990s, 1127 articles published in the 2000s, and over 2300 articles published since January 2010. The public is much more aware of this research now — even though the message from the U.S. FDA has been consistently that low levels of BPA are not harmful (this is not the case according to independent research). Public pressure is causing companies to re-think their use of BPA in their products that could lead to environmental exposure of humans to this chemical.

BPA has been shown in animal models to alter genes in fetal heart that are known to play a role in heart diseases, leads to increased genetic abnormalities in fertilized eggs and miscarriages, increased premature birth, increases susceptibility to breast cancer, stimulates early development of the reproductive system, and increases the risk of obesity. We cannot do controlled studies in humans with toxins like we can with laboratory animals. However, there has been shown to be an association between high levels of BPA in human urine and many of the same problems seen in animals: increased body weight and fat in children, increased risk of miscarriages and premature birth, and increased incidence of prostate cancer. Although association doesn’t mean cause-and-effect, taken together with the animal studies — it is meaningful.

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Alcohol-Containing Antiseptics During Facial Surgery Can Cause Corneal Damage

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Yu-Chih Hou, MD Department of Ophthalmology National Taiwan University Hospital Taipei, Taiwan

Dr. Yu-Chih Hou

Yu-Chih Hou, MD
Department of Ophthalmology
National Taiwan University Hospital
Taipei, Taiwan

MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Yu-Chih Hou: We have encountered 3 patients with right eye pain and corneal edema after left orofacial surgery under general anesthesia since December 6. 2010. The first patient underwent a left tongue tumor excision by an ENT doctor. Postoperative day one, corneal epithelial defect and edema with mild anterior chamber reaction were noted in the right eye. Because his presentation was different from corneal abrasion which was the most common eye injury after general anesthesia, we suspected this ocular complication could be due to toxic reaction to antiseptic. Although corneal edema decreased, corneal endothelial cell density decreased and cataract developed later in the first patient. Two months later, the second patient had a similar toxic keratopathy but with severe corneal edema in his right eye after wide tumor excision of left lower gingival cancer by dentist surgeons. We found the antiseptic they used contained alcohol. We recommended not to use alcohol-containing antiseptics in oral surgery. Unfortunately, more severe toxic keratopathy occurred in the third patient after a left nasal tumor excision by other ENT doctor one year later. Because these severe ocular complications may occur again, it raised us to do detail study and we found all antiseptics they used contained alcohol. We hope to prevent occurrence of this toxic keratopathy in nonocular surgery by reporting our findings to other clinicians.

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Harmful Effects of Air Pollution Can Last Decades

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr Rebecca Ghosh, Research Associate Small Area Health Statistics Unit (SAHSU) MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health Imperial College London St Mary's Campus, Norfolk Place, Londo

Dr. Rebecca Ghosh

Dr Rebecca Ghosh, Research Associate 
Small Area Health Statistics Unit (SAHSU)
MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health
Imperial College London
St Mary’s Campus, Norfolk Place, London 

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Dr. Ghosh: Since the 1950s a lot of evidence has accumulated that high levels of air pollution cause harmful effects on health.  However there is limited evidence on the very long term (>25 years) effects of air pollution.  Our study is one of the longest running to date looking at air pollution and mortality, following 368,000 people in England and Wales for 38 years.  We estimated air pollution exposures throughout England & Wales for 1971, 1981, 1991 and 2001 using data from historic air pollution monitoring networks, the first time this has been done.

We found that air pollution exposure in 1971 was still associated with a small increased risk of death in 2002-9, over 30 years later, suggesting that harmful effects of air pollution are extremely long-lasting.  However, risks from an individual’s past exposures waned over time and their more recent exposures gave the highest mortality risks.

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Don’t Heat Food in Plastic Containers, Even If Microwave or Dishwasher Safe

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Nancy Wayne, PhD Member, Brain Research Institute Molecular, Cellular & Integrative Physiology GPB Home Area Neuroscience GPB Home Area David Geffen School of Medicine UCLA

Dr. Nancy Wayne

Dr. Nancy Wayne, PhD
Member, Brain Research Institute
Molecular, Cellular & Integrative Physiology
GPB Home Area
Neuroscience GPB Home Area
David Geffen School of Medicine UCLA

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Wayne: I started this work because of my concern about our continuous exposure to BPA and other endocrine disrupting chemicals. Our first study published in 2008 showed that low doses of BPA accelerated embryonic development and birth within 24 hours of exposure. We extended this work more recently by investigating the impact of BPA and BPS (a common BPA-substitute) on the timing of birth and development of the reproductive system in embryos.

Our research showed that low levels of BPS had a similar impact on the embryo as BPA. In the presence of either BPA or BPS, embryonic development was accelerated leading to abnormal stimulation of the reproductive system. Additionally, BPA caused premature birth. This is cause for concern with human health consequences to long-term exposure to low levels of potentially dozens of endocrine disrupting chemicals that are in our environment.

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Cherry Flavored E-Cigarette Smokers Inhaling Benzaldehyde

Maciej Goniewicz

Dr. Maciej Goniewicz

MedicalRearch.com Interview with:
Maciej Goniewicz, PhD, PharmD

Assistant Professor of Oncology, Department of Health Behavior
Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr.
Goniewicz: In addition to nicotine and its solvents (like propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin), a majority of e-cigarettes contain flavorings. Users of e-cigarettes can choose their favorite flavor among hundreds of various options, including fruit, coffee, menthol, vanilla, chocolate, candy flavors, and tobacco.  Although many flavorings used in e-cigarettes are recognized as safe when used in food products, little is known about their potential toxicity when inhaled.

In this study we measured one such flavoring, benzaldehyde. This flavoring is commonly used in food and cosmetics. We know that there is little to no toxicity if we eat this compound or if we apply it on our skin. However, workers who regularly inhale a high concentration of benzaldehyde often report irritation of their eyes and throat. In this study, we tested 145 e-cigarette products, and we found benzaldehyde in 108 products. Interestingly, the highest levels of benzaldehyde were detected in cherry-flavored products.  Continue reading

Chemical in Packaging and Stain-Resistant Products Linked To Childhood Obesity

Joseph M. Braun PhD Assistant Professor Department of Epidemiology in the Program in Public Health Brown University

Dr. Braun

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Joseph M. Braun PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Epidemiology in the Program in Public Health
Brown University

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Braun:  Perfluoroalkyl substances are a class of chemicals used to produce stain/water repellent textiles, fire fighting foams, and non-stick coatings. Virtually all people in the US have measurable levels of several different perfluoroalkyl substances in their blood. There is concern that early life exposure to these chemicals can increase the risk of obesity by reducing fetal growth or promoting adipogenesis.

What are the main findings?

Dr. Braun:  Pregnant women in our study had perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) concentrations in their blood that were over 2-fold higher than pregnant women in the United States (median: 5.3 vs. 2.3 ng/mL) during the same time period (2003-2006).

Children born to women with higher serum PFOA concentrations during pregnancy had a higher body mass index, greater waist circumference, and more body fat at 8 years of age compared to children born to women with lower serum PFOA concentrations. In addition, children born to women with higher serum PFOA concentrations during pregnancy gained more fat mass between 2 and 8 years of age than children born to women with lower PFOA concentrations.

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Acute Occupational Pesticide-Related Illness Highest in Agricultural Workers

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Geoffrey M. Calvert MD

Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations, and Field Studies
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
CDC Cincinnati, Ohio

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Calvert: Since 1987, acute occupational pesticide-related illness and injury has been one of the conditions under surveillance by NIOSH. NIOSH supports these surveillance activities by providing cooperative agreement funding and technical support to state health departments. The SENSOR-Pesticides program is also partially funded by EPA. A total of 12 states currently participate in the SENSOR-Pesticides program.

With the 2015 publication of the Summary of Notifiable Non-Infectious Conditions and Disease Outbreaks – United States, official statistics for the occurrence of acute occupational pesticide-related illness and injury were published for the first time in the same volume of the MMWR with information on nationally notifiable infectious diseases.

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What Are Pregnancy Risks Of Living Near Fracking Wells?

Joan A. Casey, PhD, MA Health and Society Scholar Robert Wood Johnson Foundation UC San Francisco/UC Berkeley MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Joan A. Casey, PhD, MA
Health and Society Scholar
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
UC San Francisco/UC Berkeley 

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Casey: ​Eighteen percent of global gas production now comes from unconventional sources. Pennsylvania, in particular, has seen huge increases in unconventional natural gas development (i.e., “fracking”) over the past decade. In 2006, there were fewer than 100 unconventional wells, by 2013, there were over 7,000. Developing a single unconventional well takes hundreds to thousands of diesel truck trips to bring in materials, millions of gallons of water mixed with chemicals and sand, and hydraulic fracturing and production, which can release air pollutants and create noise and other community disturbances. We evaluated whether exposure to unconventional natural gas development activity in Pennsylvania was associated with adverse birth outcomes in those living nearby. Mothers who lived near active natural gas wells operated by the fracking industry in Pennsylvania were at an increased risk for preterm birth and for having a high-risk pregnancy.

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Do High Phthalates Levels Increase Risk of Miscarriage?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Jianying Hu
Laboratory for Earth Surface Processes
College of Urban and Environmental Sciences
Peking University, Beijing People’s Republic of China 

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Early pregnancy loss or first-trimester miscarriage is the most common complication of human reproduction, and the miscarriage incidence is increasing around the world in the recent decades. Though there are many causes for miscarriage, approximately 40% of early pregnancy loss remains unexplained. Exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) has been considering one of major risk factor to affect female reproduction. Of these EDCs related to reproductive toxicity, phthalates is of concern due to their wide usage and contamination in environment, and the reproductive toxicity in the female mouse.

Our study found that the levels of phthalates in the women who underwent miscarriage were statistically significantly high, and the risk of clinical pregnancy loss was associated with urinary concentration of phthalate metabolites.

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Radiation Protection Offered By Single Injection Post Exposure

Carla Kantara, Ph.D. Postdoctoral fellow Dept. of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Carla Kantara, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral fellow
Dept. of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

 

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Kantara: The increasing threats of radiation exposure and nuclear disasters have become a significant concern for the United States and countries worldwide. Such concern has increased national and international recognition for the need to develop novel medicinal countermeasures that can prevent radiation-induced tissue damage and keep thousands of people alive, even if administered a day or more after nuclear exposure. To date, there are only a few mitigating or radioprotective agents that are approved by the FDA, however they are unsuccessful in treating the gastrointestinal toxicity induced by high-dose radiation exposures, and are ineffective as a post-exposure treatment for the thousands of potential exposed individuals.

In our study, we showed that a single injection of TP508, administered 24 hours post-radiation, significantly increased mice survival and effectively protected the gastrointestinal mucosa by delaying crypt dissociation and directly stimulating stem cell regeneration. This suggests that TP508 may be an effective post-exposure medicinal countermeasure for mitigating radiation-induced gastrointestinal damage and mortality following a nuclear incident and may provide exposed victims additional time to be evacuated so that they can receive additional life-saving medical treatment.

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Agent Orange May Raise Risk Of Several Skin Conditions and Cancers

Andrew T. Patterson, MD The Ohio State University College of Medicine The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center Columbus, OhioMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Andrew T. Patterson, MD
The Ohio State University College of Medicine
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
Columbus, Ohio

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Patterson: The utilization of Agent Orange (AO) and other herbicides by the United States during the Vietnam War was controversial at the time and remains a prominent topic of scrutiny even today due to the potential long-term health effects facing exposed military and civilian personnel. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) in accordance with the National Academy of Sciences publishes a semi-annual review of the scientific and medical data regarding the resultant medical effects of Agent Orange and other organochlorine chemical exposures, however, skin diseases are no longer comprehensively assessed.

This represents an important practice gap, as in our experience, we had encountered a significant number of patients inquiring whether their cutaneous ailment could be the result of Agent Orange exposure. Our goal was to perform a systematic review of the literature and produce a practical summary of the current evidence regarding cutaneous manifestations of organochlorine exposures that could be utilized by military and non-military dermatologists alike when responding to questions related to prior Agent Orange contact.

After examining the literature, there appears to be an increased risk for chloracne, porphyria cutanea tarda, cutaneous lymphoma, and soft-tissue sarcomas including dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans and leiomyosarcomas in organochlorine-exposed patients. Some evidence exists for a possible increased incidence of melanomas, non-melanoma skin cancers, milia, eczema, dyschromias, dysesthesias, and rashes not otherwise specified, but the data is not conclusive. Even less support exists for an association with psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, neurodermatitis, and hypertrichosis Continue reading

Study Finds Increased Hospitalizations Near Marcellus Shale Fracking Wells

Reynold A. Panettieri, Jr., M.D. Robert L. Mayock and David A. Cooper Professor of Medicine Pulmonary, Allergy & Critical Care Division Director, Airways Biology Initiative Deputy Director, Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology Adjunct Professor, Wistar Institute Philadelphia, PA  19104-3413MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Reynold A. Panettieri, Jr., M.D.

Robert L. Mayock and David A. Cooper Professor of Medicine
Pulmonary, Allergy & Critical Care Division
Director, Airways Biology Initiative
Deputy Director, Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology
Adjunct Professor, Wistar Institute
Philadelphia, PA  19104-3413

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Panettieri: Over the past ten years in the US, unconventional gas and oil drilling (hydraulic fracturing) to generate natural gas has markedly increased.  In areas with hydraulic fracturing, there is a large increase in truck traffic, noise and potential air and water pollution.  Accordingly, residents may experience health consequences from such exposures.  We questioned whether proximity to active wells increases hospitalization rates in residents.  To address this question, we reviewed all hospitalizations in two counties in Pennsylvania, namely, Bradford and Susquehanna Counties, that experienced a meteoric increase in active wells.  In comparison, Wayne County, where there is a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, is demographically identical to Bradford and Susquehanna Counties and served as a control population.  Having examined the 25 most common reasons for admission to the hospital, we determined that cardiovascular hospitalizations as well as neurologic, dermatologic and cancer hospitalizations were associated with living closer to active wells.  These data represent some of the first studies to associate active well drilling with hospitalizations in the United States. Continue reading

Phthalate Replacements May Contribute to High Blood Pressure in Youth

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Teresa M. Attina, MD, PhD, MPH and
Leonardo Trasande, MD, MPP

Department of Pediatrics
NYU Langone Medical Center

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Response: Phthalates are environmental chemicals widely used in consumer and personal care products, and often found in plastic to increase flexibility. Di-2-ethylhexylphthalate (DEHP) is of particular interest because industrial processes to produce food frequently use plastic products containing DEHP. Because recognition of potential health risks related to DEHP exposure has increased, DEHP is being replaced by di-isononyl phthalate (DINP) and di-isodecyl phthalate (DIDP), two phthalates with similar chemical properties. Specifically, DINP is used in plastic products for food packaging, and DIDP is used in furnishings, cookware, medications, and several other consumer products. These alternatives have not been substantially studied for toxicity in laboratory studies because these studies are not required for regulatory approval: unlike the EU, in the US the current regulatory framework assumes that chemicals are safe until proven toxic.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Response: We examined DINP and DIDP levels in urine samples from children and adolescents (6 to 19 years old) who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2009 and 2012, to assess if these levels were associated with blood pressure measurements. Diet, physical activity, gender, race/ethnicity, income, and other factors that can contribute to increased blood pressure were also included in the analysis. A significant association was found between high blood pressure and DINP/DIDP levels in study participants. This is not a cause-and-effect relationship but it suggests that phthalates may contribute to increased blood pressure.

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Many Petroleum Product Releases Due To Private Accidents and Damage To Utilities or Lines

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Ayana R. Anderson, MPH
Division of Toxicology and Human Health Sciences
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

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

Response: Large mass casualty gas explosions and oil spills are widely reported in the media and receive considerable regulatory attention. However, smaller less catastrophic events are less likely to receive publicity. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) analyzed 2010–2012 data from the National Toxic Substance Incidents Program (NTSIP) to describe the causes and public health impacts of petroleum product release incidents and to better focus and prioritize prevention efforts.

There were a total of 1,369 petroleum product releases reported from 7 states resulting in 512 injured persons and 36 deaths.

         Approximately one fourth of the incidents were associated with utilities.

         Approximately one fifth were associated with private vehicles or residences.

         Approximately 10 percent of petroleum product releases resulted from inadvertent damage to utility lines.

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Indoor Air Purifiers Reduce Cardiopulmonary Effects Of Severe Air Pollution

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Renjie Chen PhD and Dr. Haidong Kan, PhD
School of Public Health, Key Lab of Public Health Safety of the Ministry of Education, Fudan University, Shanghai, China

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

Response: Although several previous studies in developed countries with cleaner air have reported health benefits due to air filtration, no such interventional studies were conducted in a developing country with much severer air pollution problems. Our main findings suggested that even a short-term intervention (2 days) could significantly reduce indoor air pollution and improve cardiopulmonary health among healthy young adults. Continue reading

Aflatoxins From Food May Increase Risk Of Gallbladder Cancer

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Catterina Ferreccio, MD, MPH
School of Medicine
Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Santiago, Chile

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Ferreccio: In Chile, gallbladder cancer (GBC) is the 2nd highest cause of cancer death in women.  Other than gallstones no other causal factors have been identified. We conducted a pilot case-control study of gallbladder cancer to evaluate its association with aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) exposure. Aflatoxins are toxics products of the fungis Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus and are contaminants of food; AFB1 is carcinogenic. Usually they are found in areas closer to the Equator than Chile.

Main findings were the high proportion (35%) of study subjects carrying aflatoxins adducts and the particularly high exposure among the Gallbladder cancer (GBC) cases (64%) compared with gallstones controls (18%) or with population controls (23%).

Difference of gallbladder cancer vs controls were statistically significant and suggests aflatoxins may be a significant risk factor for gallbladder cancer; hypothesis never tested before.

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Increased Air Pollution Linked To More Strokes, Smaller Brain Volumes

Elissa Hope Wilker, Sc.D. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Cardiovascular Epidemiology Research Harvard Medical SchoolMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Elissa Hope Wilker, Sc.D.
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Cardiovascular Epidemiology Research
Harvard Medical School

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Wilke: Long-term exposure to ambient air pollution is associated with cerebrovascular disease and cognitive impairment, but the impact on structural changes in the brain is not well understood. We studied older adults living in the greater Boston area and throughout New England and New York and we looked at the air pollution levels and how far they lived from major roads. We then linked this information to findings from MRI studies of structural brain images. Although air pollution levels in this area are fairly low compared to levels observed in other parts of the world, we found that people who lived in areas with higher levels of air pollution had smaller brain volumes, and higher risk of silent strokes. The magnitude of association that we observed for a 2 µg/m3 increase in fine particulate matter (PM2.5) (a range commonly observed across urban areas) was approximately equivalent to one year of brain aging. The association with silent strokes is of concern, because these are associated with increased risk of overt strokes, walking problems, and depression.

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Pesticides In Fruits and Vegetables May Lower Sperm Count In Men

Jorge E. Chavarro, M.D., Sc.D. Assistant Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Assistant Professor of Medicine Harvard Medical School Boston, MA 02113MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jorge E. Chavarro, M.D., Sc.D.
Assistant Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Harvard Medical School Boston, MA 02113

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Chavarro: Previous studies have shown that occupational exposure to pesticides is harmful to sperm production. However, whether the same is true for pesticide residues in our food, the most important source of exposure to pesticides for most people, is unclear.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Dr. Chavarro: Bottom line, men who consumed the greatest amounts of fruits and vegetables with large amounts of pesticide residues had significantly lower sperm counts and fewer morphologically normal sperm.

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Prenatal Exposure To Air Pollutants May Produce Structural Brain Abnormalities

Dr. Bradley S. Peterson, M.D Director of the Institute for the Developing Mind The Saban Research Institute of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Children’s Hospital Los AngelesMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Bradley S. Peterson, M.D
Director of the Institute for the Developing Mind
The Saban Research Institute of Children’s Hospital
Los Angeles Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Peterson: Neurotoxic PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) are ubiquitous in the environment, in the home and in the workplace. Emissions from motor vehicles, oil and coal burning for home heating or power generation, wildfires and agricultural burning, hazardous waste sites, tobacco smoke and charred foods are all sources of exposure. PAH readily crosses the placenta and affects an unborn child’s brain; earlier animal studies showed that prenatal exposure impaired the development of behavior, learning and memory. Our group previously reported that exposure to airborne PAH during gestation was associated with multiple neurodevelopmental disturbances, including development delay by age 3, reduced verbal IQ at age 5, and symptoms of anxiety and depression at age 7.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Dr. Peterson: Together with Virginia Rauh, ScD and Frederica Perera, DrPH, PhD of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, we conducted a brain imaging study to test the effects on brain structure of PAH exposure during the final trimester of pregnancy.  We used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure the brains of 40 children from a cohort of more than 600 mother-baby pairs from minority communities in New York City. These 40 children were carefully selected to have no other exposures that would affect brain development. Our findings showed that prenatal PAH exposure led to reductions in nearly the entire white matter surface of the brain’s left hemisphere – losses that were associated with slower processing of information during intelligence testing and more severe behavioral problems, including ADHD and aggression.  Postnatal PAH exposure – measured at age 5 – was found to contribute to additional disturbances in development of white matter in the dorsal prefrontal region of the brain, a portion of the brain that supports concentration, reasoning, judgment, and problem-solving ability. Continue reading

Air Pollution Linked To Increased Risk Of Stroke

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr Anoop Shah

Cardiology Research fellow
Centre of Cardiovascular sciences
University Of Edinburgh Edinburgh

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Stroke accounts for five million deaths each year and is a major cause of disability. The incidence of stroke is increasing, particularly in low and middle income countries, where two thirds of all strokes occur. The global burden of stroke related disability is therefore high and continues to rise. This has been primarily attributed to an aging population in high income countries and the accumulation of risk factors for stroke, such as smoking, hypertension, and obesity, in low and middle income countries.  The impact of environmental factors on morbidity and mortality from stroke, however, might be important and is less certain.

From 103 studies and across 6.2 million fatal and non-fatal strokes, our findings suggest a strong association between short term exposure to both gaseous (except ozone) and particulate air pollution, and admissions to hospital for stroke or mortality from stroke. These associations were strongest in low and middle income countries, suggesting the need for policy changes to reduce personal exposure to air pollutants especially in highly polluted regions.
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Air Pollution May Raise Risk Of Carotid Artery Stenosis

Jonathan D. Newman, MD, MPH Instructor of Medicine The Leon H Charney Division of Cardiology and The Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease New York University School of Medicine NY, NY 10016MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jonathan D. Newman, MD, MPH
Instructor of Medicine
The Leon H Charney Division of Cardiology and
The Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease
New York University School of Medicine
NY, NY 10016

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Newman: Outdoor fine air pollution (PM2.5 defined as mass concentration of particles < 2.5µM) is ubiquitous and associated with cardiovascular mortality, ischemic heart disease events and stroke.   There are known vascular and hemodynamic effects of air pollution exposure that may explain some, but not all, of this increased risk.  However, prior to this study it was unknown whether fine particle air pollution exposure is associated with prevalent clinical atherosclerosis, such as carotid artery stenosis.

For the first time we examined the association between fine particle air pollution exposure and carotid artery stenosis in over 300,000 people living in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.  Working with colleagues in Environmental Medicine from NYU Langone Medical Center, we used data from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality System to estimate the average annual fine particle air pollution by zip code in the tri-state area.  Air pollution data was then associated with the results of vascular screening tests from tristate residents age 40-80 participating in the Life Line Vascular Screening  (LLS, Independence, Ohio).

After adjusting for the effects of known cardiovascular disease risk factors such as smoking, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes and physical inactivity, we found that each 10µg/m3 increase in air pollution exposure was associated with a nearly two-fold increase in risk of carotid artery stenosis (OR 1.90, 95% CI (1.35-2.66).  Similarly, compared to the lower levels of air pollution exposure, participants in the highest fourth of air pollution exposure had a 24% increased risk in carotid artery stenosis (OR 1.24 95% CI 1.11-1.37).

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Newman: Our study shows that air pollution exposure has important vascular effects, even at lower levels of exposure.  It also shows that these effects are independent of known strong risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.  Our findings support public health and governmental initiatives to limit and/or reduce air pollution exposure, and also indicate that it may be prudent for individuals with high risk of cardiovascular disease such as people with prior known heart disease, strokes, diabetes or vascular disease to limit the time spent outdoors when indices of air quality are poor.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Newman: Future studies need to investigate the specific components of air pollution that are associated with vascular disease risk, and to better characterize populations of individuals that – such as people with diabetes – that may have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease with air pollution exposure.  Finally, our study also supports future research into novel strategies to reduce or ameliorate the vascular risks of environmental exposures.

Citation:

Presented at ACC15 and

Particulate Air Pollution and Carotid Artery Stenosis
Jonathan D. Newman, MD, MPH; George D. Thurston, ScD; Kevin Cromar, PhD; Yu Guo, MA; Caron B. Rockman, MD; Edward A. Fisher, MD, PhD; Jeffrey S. Berger, MD, MS

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2015;65(11):1150-1151. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2014.12.052

 

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Jonathan D. Newman, MD, MPH (2015). Air Pollution May Raise Risk Of Carotid Artery Stenosis 

Tooth Enamel Defects May Reflect Perinatal Exposure to Bisphenol A

Sylvie Babajko, PhD Centre de Recherche des Cordeliers Inserm UMR_S 1138 Laboratoire de Physiopathologie Orale Moléculaire 75006 Paris cedex 06MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Sylvie Babajko, PhD
Centre de Recherche des Cordeliers
Inserm UMR_S 1138
Laboratoire de Physiopathologie Orale Moléculaire
75006 Paris cedex 06

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

Dr. Babajko: The environment has become increasingly contaminated by various pollutants. This has led to an increase in the incidence and gravity of known pathologies and/or the emergence of new pathologies. In 2001, a distinct enamel pathology called molar incisor hypomineralization (MIH) was described. It is diagnosed by white to brown creamy lesions affecting permanent first molars and frequently permanent incisors too. These teeth are sensitive and susceptible to caries. MIH prevalence turns around 15-18 % of 6 to 9 years-old children in studied populations all over the world. To date, MIH etiology remains unclear. However, given that MIH affects those teeth that are undergoing mineralization around the time of birth, MIH is indicative of some adverse event(s) occurring during early childhood that impact on enamel development. Interestingly, susceptibility to BPA in human is the highest during the same period of time.

Our experimental data (1, 2) showed that BPA may be a causal agent of MIH and that BPA irreversibly impacts amelogenesis via steroid hormone pathway. Continue reading