Food packaging chemicals may be harmful to human health over long term

The synthetic chemicals used in the packaging, storage, and processing of foodstuffs might be harmful to human health over the long term, warn environmental scientists in a commentary in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.This is because most of these substances are not inert and can leach into the foods we eat, they say.Despite the fact that some of these chemicals are regulated, people who eat packaged or processed foods are likely to be chronically exposed to low levels of these substances throughout their lives, say the authors.And far too little is known about their long term impact, including at crucial stages of human development, such as in the womb, which is “surely not justified on scientific grounds,” the authors claim.They point out that lifelong exposure to food contact materials or FCMs — substances used in packaging, storage, processing, or preparation equipment — “is a cause for concern for several reasons.”These include the fact that known toxicants, such as formaldehyde, a cancer causing substance, are legally used in these materials. Formaldehyde is widely present, albeit at low levels, in plastic bottles used for fizzy drinks and melamine tableware.Secondly, other chemicals known to disrupt hormone production also crop up in FCMs, including bisphenol A, tributyltin, triclosan, and phthalates.”Whereas the science for some of these substances is being debated and policy makers struggle to satisfy the needs of stakeholders, consumers remain exposed to these chemicals daily, mostly unknowingly,” the authors point out.And, thirdly, the total number of known chemical substances used intentionally in FCMs exceeds 4000.Furthermore, potential cellular changes caused by FCMs, and in particular, those with the capacity to disrupt hormones, are not even being considered in routine toxicology analysis, which prompts the authors to suggest that this “casts serious doubts on the adequacy of chemical regulatory procedures.”They admit that establishing potential cause and effect as a result of lifelong and largely invisible exposure to FCMs will be no easy task, largely because there are no unexposed populations to compare with, and there are likely to be wide differences in exposure levels among individuals and across certain population groups.But some sort of population-based assessment and biomonitoring are urgently needed to tease out any potential links between food contact chemicals and chronic conditions like cancer, obesity, diabetes, neurological and inflammatory disorders, particularly given the known role of environmental pollutants, they argue.”Since most foods are packaged, and the entire population is likely to be exposed, it is of utmost importance that gaps in knowledge are reliably and rapidly filled,” they urge.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by BMJ-British Medical Journal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Read more

Breast cancer drug found in bodybuilding supplement

In a letter to The BMJ this week, researchers explain that, for more than 30 years, bodybuilders have taken tamoxifen to prevent and treat gynaecomastia (breast swelling) caused by use of anabolic steroids.Usually, tamoxifen is sourced from the illicit market, they say. However, bodybuilding discussion forums have speculated that a dietary supplement called Esto Suppress contains tamoxifen because the label listed one of its chemical names.The researchers purchased four samples at different times between late 2011 and early 2012 and analysed their contents. Tamoxifen was found in three out of the four samples at different concentrations (3.8 mg, 0.9 mg and 3 mg).The product label suggested a dosage of two capsules a day, which in the case of sample 1 may have provided 7.6 mg of tamoxifen (10-20 mg is used clinically for treating gynaecomastia).It is not known whether the Esto Suppress currently being sold still contains tamoxifen, but since the 2000s a growing number of off-the-shelf “food,” “herbal,” or “dietary” “supplements” — aimed at gym goers and people wanting to lose weight or enhance their sex lives — have contained pharmacologically active substances, explain the authors.These include anabolic steroids, erectogenics (to stimulate erections), stimulants, appetite suppressants, and anxiolytics (to treat anxiety).Often the substances are not listed on the labelling, and products may be marketed as “natural,” exploiting the belief that they are safer and healthier options, they add. In other cases, such as with Esto Suppress, only an obscure reference is made to the substance, such as a chemical name.They warn that most users “will be unaware that they are taking these substances” and urge healthcare professionals to ask their patients about their use of “supplements” and report suspected adverse reactions.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by BMJ-British Medical Journal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Read more

Zealous imaging fuelling unnecessary and harmful treatment of low risk thyroid cancers, experts warn

Aug. 27, 2013 — New imaging techniques are fuelling an epidemic in diagnosis and treatment of thyroid cancers that are unlikely to ever progress to cause symptoms or death, warn experts on bmj.com today.New technologies such as ultrasound, CT and MRI scanning can detect thyroid nodules as small as 2mm — many of these small nodules are papillary thyroid cancers.In the US, cases have tripled in the past 30 years — from 3.6 per 100,000 in 1973 to 11.6 per 100,000 in 2009 — making it one of the fastest growing diagnoses. Yet the death rate from papillary thyroid cancer has remained stable.This expanding gap between incidence of thyroid cancer and deaths suggests that low risk cancers are being overdiagnosed and overtreated, argue Dr Juan Brito and colleagues at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.This is exposing patients to unnecessary and harmful treatment that is inconsistent with their prognosis, they warn, and they say both the overdiagnosis and overtreatment of this form of cancer need to be fully recognised.The article is part of a series looking at the risks and harms of overdiagnosis in a range of common conditions. The series, together with the Preventing Overdiagnosis conference in September, are part of the BMJ’s Too Much Medicine campaign to help tackle the threat to health and the waste of money caused by unnecessary care.The authors say that unnecessary thyroidectomy (the surgical removal of all or part of the thyroid gland) is costly and carries a risk of complications such as low calcium levels and nerve injury. In the US, the number of thyroidectomies for thyroid cancer has risen by 60% over the past 10 years at an estimated cost of $416m (£270m; €316m).Using radioactive iodine in patients with low risk thyroid cancer has also increased from one in 300 patients to two in five patients between 1973 and 2006, despite recommendations against using it, they add.They acknowledge that inferring overdiagnosis of thyroid cancer has limitations, but say that uncertainty about the benefits and harms of immediate treatment for low risk papillary thyroid cancer “should spur clinicians to engage patients in shared decision making … to ensure treatment is consistent with the research evidence and patient goals.”They suggest a term that conveys favorable prognosis for low risk thyroid cancers (microPapillary Lesions of Indolent Course or microPLIC)) and makes it easier to give patients the choice of active surveillance over immediate and often intensive treatment. And they call for research to identify the appropriate care for these patients.

Read more

Vitamin C may be beneficial against exercise-induced bronchoconstriction

June 12, 2013 — Vitamin C may substantially reduce bronchoconstriction caused by exercise, says Dr. Harri Hemila from the University of Helsinki, Finland. Hemila’s meta-analysis “Vitamin C may alleviate exercise-induced bronchoconstriction” was published in BMJ Open (7 June, 2013)Share This:Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction means the transient narrowing of the airways that occurs during or after exercise. It can cause symptoms such as cough, wheezing and the shortness of breath. Formerly, this condition was called exercise-induced asthma. Usually, the diagnosis of exercise-induced bronchoconstriction is based on a 10% or greater decline in forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) caused by exercise. About 10% of the general population suffers from exercise-induced bronchoconstriction, but among some fields of competitive winter sports the prevalence can be up to 50%.Previously, vitamin C was found to halve the incidence of common cold episodes in people enduring heavy short-term physical stress, which indicated that vitamin C might also have other effects on people under heavy physical exertion. The new systematic review focused on the effect of vitamin C on bronchoconstriction caused by exercise and identified three relevant randomized placebo-controlled trials. Each of the three identified trials found that vitamin C halved the FEV1 decline caused by exercise challenge test. The pooled estimate of vitamin C effect indicated a 48% reduction in the FEV1 decline caused by exercise.Dr. …

Read more

Utilizzando il sito, accetti l'utilizzo dei cookie da parte nostra. maggiori informazioni

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close