Study finds glyphosate in cat and dog food

Public Release: 24-Oct-2018

 

Cornell University

ITHACA, N.Y. – Got glyphosate?

Your pet’s breakfast might.

A new Cornell study published this month in Environmental Pollution finds that glyphosate, the active herbicidal ingredient in widely used weed killers like Roundup, was present at low levels in a variety of dog and cat foods the researchers purchased at stores. Before you go switching Fido or Fluffy’s favorite brand, however, be aware that the amounts of the herbicide found correspond to levels currently considered safe for humans.

The study grew out of a larger interdisciplinary research project led by Brian Richards, senior research associate in biological and environmental engineering, and supported by the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future’s Academic Venture Fund, which sought to reassess glyphosate mobility and impacts in several contexts: movement from crop fields in surface water, impacts on soils and on animals consuming it in their feed.

Richard’s co-investigators Anthony Hay, associate professor of microbiology, and Kenneth Simpson, professor of small-animal medicine, visited a pet store and a retail outlet, where they selected multiple bags of cat and dog foods from major brands. The 18 feeds were all mixtures of vegetable and meat ingredients, and one product was certified GMO-free. Analyses conducted by postdoctoral researcher and lead author Jiang Zhao in Hay’s lab, and research support specialist Steve Pacenka, found that all of the products contained glyphosate at concentrations ranging from approximately 80 to 2,000 micrograms of glyphosate per kilogram.

Since there is not enough data available to determine what effect – if any – low-dose glyphosate exposure has on domestic animals, the researchers used human acceptable daily intake guidelines to put these findings in context, according to Hay. The researchers estimated that the median dog exposure would amount to only 0.7 percent of the U.S. glyphosate limit set for humans.

“While the levels of glyphosate in pet foods surprised us, if a human ate it every day, their glyphosate exposure would still be well below the limits currently deemed safe,” Hay said.

“Even the most contaminated feed they studied had thousands of times less glyphosate than levels that were shown to have no adverse effects on dogs in the U.S. EPA’s Draft Risk Assessment for glyphosate” said Dan Wixted, a pesticide educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension who was not involved in the study.

While unable to pinpoint the exact product or crops that were the source of the glyphosate, Hay’s team did find a correlation with fiber, suggesting a plant-based origin. “We know that glyphosate is only certified for spraying on crops, and it does not bio-accumulate in animals, so we would not expect it to come from feed animals that are the main protein sources in some of the products,” Hay said. “Our evidence suggests that it’s coming from plant material.”

One surprising finding of the study: Glyphosate was detected in the one GMO-free product the researchers analyzed at levels higher than those of several other processed feeds. This suggests that keeping feed stocks uncontaminated is a challenge even in the GMO-free market.

What is a pet owner to do with this information?

“Glyphosate is out there in our pets’ food, and while there doesn’t appear to be any immediate risk, there is still uncertainty about the chronic impact of low doses like these,” Hay said. “It’s hard to find a product that doesn’t have glyphosate in it, so we included the exposure assessment to provide some context. The old adage ‘dose determines the poison’ is good to keep in mind: While it’s possible that these animals might respond differently than humans, the numbers are still within a range that would be deemed safe for humans.”

Hay, for his part, has stopped feeding chow found to be high in glyphosate to his own dog, a pug beagle mix, but he hasn’t seen any changes in her health.

“She’s more cat than dog to be honest,” he said. “She sits on the bed and won’t go outside when it rains. But I can now confirm that her laziness has nothing to do with her feed.”

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More bad news for artificial sweetener users according to Ben-Gurion University researchers

Public Release: 1-Oct-2018

New study demonstrates artificial sweeteners have toxic effects on gut microbes

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

NEW YORK…October 1, 2018 — FDA-approved artificial sweeteners and sport supplements were found to be toxic to digestive gut microbes, according to a new paper published in Molecules by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Israel and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

The collaborative study indicated relative toxicity of six artificial sweeteners (aspartame, sucralose, saccharine, neotame, advantame, and acesulfame potassium-k) and 10 sport supplements containing these artificial sweeteners. The bacteria found in the digestive system became toxic when exposed to concentrations of only one mg./ml. of the artificial sweeteners.

“We modified bioluminescent E. coli bacteria, which luminesce when they detect toxicants and act as a sensing model representative of the complex microbial system,” says Prof. Ariel Kushmaro, John A. Ungar Chair in Biotechnology in the Avram and Stella Goldstein-Goren Department of Biotechnology Engineering, and member of the Ilse Katz Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology and the National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev. “This is further evidence that consumption of artificial sweeteners adversely affects gut microbial activity which can cause a wide range of health issues.”

Artificial sweeteners are used in countless food products and soft drinks with reduced sugar content. Many people consume this added ingredient without their knowledge. Moreover, artificial sweeteners have been identified as emerging environmental pollutants, and can be found in drinking and surface water, and groundwater aquifers.

“The results of this study might help in understanding the relative toxicity of artificial sweeteners and the potential of negative effects on the gut microbial community as well as the environment.

Furthermore, the tested bioluminescent bacterial panel can potentially be used for detecting artificial sweeteners in the environment,” says Prof. Kushmaro.

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This study was supported by the National Research Foundation of Singapore under the Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise (CREATE) and the Singapore-HUJ Alliance for Research and Enterprise (SHARE), The Institute for Sport Research and the Singapore International Graduate Award.

Additional researchers who participated in the study from Ben-Gurion University are Dorin Harpaz, Ph.D. student, and Prof. Robert S. Marks. Other researchers include Trish H. P. Koon, Alfred I. Y. Tok, Loo Pin Yeo, Francesca Cecchini , and Evgeni Eltzov. “Measuring Artificial Sweeteners Toxicity Using a Bioluminescent Bacterial Panel.” Molecules 2018, 23 (10), 2454 doi.org/10.3390/molecules23102454.

About American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (AABGU) plays a vital role in sustaining David Ben-Gurion’s vision: creating a world-class institution of education and research in the Israeli desert, nurturing the Negev community and sharing the University’s expertise locally and around the globe. As Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) looks ahead to turning 50 in 2020, AABGU imagines a future that goes beyond the walls of academia. It is a future where BGU invents a new world and inspires a vision for a stronger Israel and its next generation of leaders. Together with supporters, AABGU will help the University foster excellence in teaching, research and outreach to the communities of the Negev for the next 50 years and beyond. Visit vision.aabgu.org to learn more.

AABGU, which is headquartered in Manhattan, has nine regional offices throughout the United States. For more information, visit http://www.aabgu.org.

Household cleaning products may contribute to kids’ overweight by altering their gut microbiota

Public Release: 17-Sep-2018

 

Canadian Medical Association Journal

Commonly used household cleaners could be making children overweight by altering their gut microbiota, suggests a Canadian study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

The study analyzed the gut flora of 757 infants from the general population at age 3-4 months and weight at ages 1 and 3 years, looking at exposure to disinfectants, detergents and eco-friendly products used in the home.

Researchers from across Canada looked at data from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) birth cohort on microbes in infant fecal matter. They used World Health Organization growth charts for body mass index (BMI) scores.

Associations with altered gut flora in babies 3-4 months old were strongest for frequent use of household disinfectants such as multisurface cleaners, which showed lower levels of Haemophilus and Clostridium bacteria but higher levels of Lachnospiraceae. The researchers also observed an increase in Lachnospiraceae bacteria with more frequent cleaning with disinfectants. They did not find the same association with detergents or eco-friendly cleaners. Studies of piglets have found similar changes in the gut microbiome when exposed to aerosol disinfectants.

“We found that infants living in households with disinfectants being used at least weekly were twice as likely to have higher levels of the gut microbes Lachnospiraceae at age 3-4 months; when they were 3 years old, their body mass index was higher than children not exposed to heavy home use of disinfectants as an infant,” said Anita Kozyrskyj, a University of Alberta pediatrics professor, and principal investigator on the SyMBIOTA project, an investigation into how alteration of the infant gut microbiome impacts health.

Babies living in households that used eco-friendly cleaners had different microbiota and were less likely to be overweight as toddlers.

“Those infants growing up in households with heavy use of eco cleaners had much lower levels of the gut microbes Enterobacteriaceae. However, we found no evidence that these gut microbiome changes caused the reduced obesity risk,” she said.

She suggests that the use of eco-friendly products may be linked to healthier overall maternal lifestyles and eating habits, contributing in turn to the healthier gut microbiomes and weight of their infants.

“Antibacterial cleaning products have the capacity to change the environmental microbiome and alter risk for child overweight,” write the authors. “Our study provides novel information regarding the impact of these products on infant gut microbial composition and outcomes of overweight in the same population.”

A related commentary provides perspective on the interesting findings.

“There is biologic plausibility to the finding that early-life exposure to disinfectants may increase risk of childhood obesity through the alterations in bacteria within the Lachnospiraceae family,” write epidemiologists Dr. Noel Mueller and Moira Differding, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in a related commentary http://www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.181134.

They call for further studies “to explore the intriguing possibility that use of household disinfectants might contribute to the complex causes of obesity through microbially mediated mechanisms.”

Dr. Kozyrskyj agrees and points to the need for studies that classify cleaning products by their actual ingredients. “The inability to do this was a limitation of our study.”

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The research study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) with funding from the Allergy, Genes and Environment (AllerGen) Network of Centres of Excellence for the CHILD study.

“Postnatal exposure to household disinfectants, infant gut microbiota and subsequent risk of overweight in children” is published September 17, 2018.

Podcast permanent link: https://soundcloud.com/cmajpodcasts/170809-res

Video: https://youtu.be/2OUXHwkpc28

E. coli strain from retail poultry may cause urinary tract infections in people

Public Release: 28-Aug-2018

 

George Washington University

WASHINGTON, DC (Aug. 28, 2018) – A strain of Escherichia coli (E. coli) found in retail chicken and turkey products may cause a wide range of infections in people, according to a study published today in the American Society for Microbiology’s open access journal mBio.

Researchers knew that E. coli could be passed from person-to-person in the community and in hospitals. However, this study, “Escherichia coli ST131-H22 as a Foodborne Uropathogen,” provides evidence that the E. coli lurking in fresh poultry products can be passed to people, leading to bladder infections and other serious conditions.

Many people think of urinary tract infections (UTIs) as a common and minor annoyance, but invasive UTIs that involve the kidneys or blood can be life-threatening. More than 80 percent of UTIs are caused by E. coli, but only a few strains are responsible for most of the serious infections. One type of E. coli, called E. coli ST131, is particularly adept at traveling from the bladder to the blood and kills thousands of people in the U.S. each year.

It’s unknown how most people pick up E. coli ST131 infections, and previous studies suggested that retail meat was not a source, but new research suggests that these earlier studies may have been too narrowly focused. A multi-center research team led by Lance B. Price, PhD, director of the Antibiotic Resistance Action Center (ARAC) based at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH), shows that there are multiple strains of E. coli ST131 and that one strain in particular may be passed to people via contaminated poultry meat.

Price and his colleagues, including those at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), conducted a one-year longitudinal study where they analyzed retail chicken, turkey and pork purchased from every major grocery chain in Flagstaff, Ariz. During the same year, the team also collected and analyzed urine and blood isolates taken from patients seen at Flagstaff Medical Center, the only major hospital in Flagstaff.

The team found E. coli in nearly 80 percent of the 2,452 meat samples and in 72 percent of the positive urine and blood cultures from patients. E. coli ST131 was the most common type infecting people and was also present on the meat samples. Next, the team had to find out just how closely related these bacteria were to one another, or, importantly whether people had acquired them from poultry.

To find out, Price and his team studied the genomes of the E. coli cells. They discovered that that almost all of the E. coli ST131 on the poultry products belonged to a particular strain called ST131-H22 and carried genes that helps E. coli thrive in birds. This same poultry-adapted strain was also found to be causing UTIs in people.

“In the past, we could say that E. coli from people and poultry were related to one another, but with this study, we can more confidently say that the E. coli went from poultry to people and not vice versa,” said Price, who is also a Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at Milken Institute SPH.

Currently, poultry products are not routinely tested for the kind of E. coli strains that can cause UTIs. These findings underscore the importance of cooking poultry thoroughly and handling it carefully in the kitchen, Price said.

“This particular E. coli strain appears capable of thriving in poultry and causing disease in people,” said Cindy Liu, MD, MPH, PhD, first author of the paper and chief medical officer at ARAC. “Poultry products could be an important vehicle for bacteria that can cause diseases other than diarrhea.”

“We are now working to measure what proportion of UTIs might be caused by foodborne E. coli by looking at all E. coli strains, not only ST131,” Price said. “This is not an easy question to answer but an extremely important one.”

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Funding for this study was provided by the United States Army Medical Research and Materiel Command; the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health; and the Office of Research and Development at Medical Research Service, Department of Veterans Affairs.

Study finds sucralose produces previously unidentified metabolites

Public Release: 27-Aug-2018

 

North Carolina State University

Sucralose, a widely used artificial sweetener sold under the trade name Splenda®, is metabolized in the gut, producing at least two fat-soluble compounds, according to a recent study using rats. The finding differs from the studies used to garner regulatory approval for sucralose, which reported that the substance was not broken down in the body. The new study also found that sucralose itself was found in fatty tissues of the body.

The researchers used the same experimental model used by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to assess the safety of foods based on accepted daily intake. In this case, that involved administering an average dose of 80.4 milligrams/kilogram/day to 10 rats for 40 days. Urine and feces from the rats were collected and assessed for those 40 days, and for the following two weeks. At the end of the two-week follow-up period, fatty tissue from a subset of the rats was also tested.

The researchers, from North Carolina State University and Avazyme Inc. – an analytical testing company – used techniques designed to detect both fat- and water-soluble metabolites. That’s significant because industry did not use state-of-the-art techniques that targeted the full suite of fat-soluble metabolites in the studies it submitted to the FDA when seeking FDA approval for sucralose.

“Our techniques were more suited to extracting and preserving fat-soluble metabolites,” says Susan Schiffman, an adjunct professor at NC State and co-author of the recent study. “We were also able to use state-of-the-art analytical techniques to identify those metabolites.

“We found two metabolites in urine and feces throughout the sucralose dosing period,” Schiffman says. “Those metabolites could still be detected in the urine 11 days after we stopped giving the rats sucralose, and six days after the sucralose itself could no longer be detected. That’s particularly interesting, given that the metabolism studies that the FDA’s approval were based on reported that ingested sucralose was not metabolized.”

Specifically, the metabolites were acetylated compounds, which are highly lipophilic – meaning they are easily dissolved in fat. That means they are more likely to stick around in the body.

In addition, the researchers found that sucralose itself was detected in the adipose, or fatty, tissues of rats two weeks after the rats had stopped receiving sucralose.

“Based on previous studies, we know that sucralose can be passed on by nursing mothers in their breastmilk,” Schiffman says. “And, among other findings, we know that sucralose can reduce the abundance of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Our new study shows that sucralose is also creating metabolites whose potential health effects we know little or nothing about.

“As a result, we feel that it may be time to revisit the safety and regulatory status of sucralose,” Schiffman says.

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The paper, “Intestinal Metabolism and Bioaccumulation of Sucralose In Adipose Tissue In The Rat,” is published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A. The paper was co-authored by Volker Bornemann and Stephen Werness of Avazyme; and Lauren Buslinger, director of veterinary services for laboratory animal resources in NC State’s College of Veterinary Medicine. This research was supported by the Engineering Foundation at North Carolina State University.

Mobile phone radiation may affect memory performance in adolescents

Public Release: 19-Jul-2018

Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute

The rapid evolution of information and communication technologies (ICT) goes along with an increase in exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) in our daily life. The most relevant exposure source to the brain is the use of a mobile phone close to the head. Several studies have been conducted to identify potential health effects related to RF-EMF, though results have remained inconclusive.

The research conducted by scientists at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) looked at the relationship between exposure to RF-EMF from wireless communication devices and memory performance in adolescents. The study follows up a report published in the scientific journal Environment International in 2015 with twice the sample size and more recent information on the absorption of RF-EMF in adolescents’ brains during different types of wireless communication device use. These are the world’s first epidemiological studies to estimate cumulative RF-EMF brain dose in adolescents.

Media usage and brain exposure in young adults

The study to be published on 19 July 2018 found that cumulative RF-EMF brain exposure from mobile phone use over one year may have a negative effect on the development of figural memory performance in adolescents, confirming prior results published in 2015. Figural memory is mainly located in the right brain hemisphere and association with RF-EMF was more pronounced in adolescents using the mobile phone on the right side of the head. “This may suggest that indeed RF-EMF absorbed by the brain is responsible for the observed associations.” said Martin Röösli, Head of Environmental Exposures and Health at Swiss TPH.

Other aspects of wireless communication use, such as sending text messages, playing games or browsing the Internet cause only marginal RF-EMF exposure to the brain and were not associated with the development of memory performance. “A unique feature of this study is the use of objectively collected mobile phone user data from mobile phone operators.” said Röösli. He emphasised that further research is needed to rule out the influence of other factors. “For instance, the study results could have been affected by puberty, which affects both mobile phone use and the participant’s cognitive and behavioural state.”

The data gathered from the Health Effects Related to Mobile phone usE in adolescentS (HERMES) cohort looked at the relationship between exposure to RF-EMF and development of memory performance of almost 700 adolescents over the course of one year. Participants, aged 12 to 17 years, were recruited from 7th to 9th public school grades in urban and rural areas of Swiss-German speaking Switzerland.

Minimising the risk of RF-EMF exposure

The potential effect of RF-EMF exposure to the brain is a relatively new field of scientific inquiry. “It is not yet clear how RF-EMF could potentially affect brain processes or how relevant our findings are in the long-term.” said Röösli. “Potential risks to the brain can be minimised by using headphones or the loud speaker while calling, in particular when network quality is low and the mobile phone is functioning at maximum power.”

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About the publication

The study was conducted by Swiss TPH in collaboration with the European Union project GERoNiMO, which aims to improve the knowledge of whether and to what extent RF-EMF affects health. The work on dose calculations was conducted in collaboration with Belgian scientists. The project was funded by the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme and the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).

Foerster M., Thielens A., Joseph W., Eeftens M., Röösli M. (2018) A prospective cohort study of adolescents’ memory performance and individual brain dose of microwave radiation from wireless communication. Environmental Health Perspectives. https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/ehp2747

Schoeni A., Roser K., Röösli M. (2015) Memory performance, wireless communication and exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields: a prospective cohort study in adolescents. Environmental International. Volume 85. Page 343-351.

Media Contact

Martin Röösli, PhD, Professor of Environmental Epidemiology and Head of the Environmental Exposures and Health Unit, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH), Tel +41 61 284 8383, martin.roosli@swissph.ch

Sabina Beatrice-Matter, Head of Communications, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH), Tel +41 61 284 8364, Mob +41 79 737 9158, sabina.beatrice@swisstph.ch

Beef jerky and other processed meats associated with manic episodes

Public Release: 18-Jul-2018

 

Johns Hopkins Medicine

An analysis of more than 1,000 people with and without psychiatric disorders has shown that nitrates–chemicals used to cure meats such as beef jerky, salami, hot dogs and other processed meat snacks–may contribute to mania, an abnormal mood state. Mania is characterized by hyperactivity, euphoria and insomnia.

The findings of the Johns Hopkins Medicine study, which was not designed to determine cause and effect, were published July 18 in Molecular Psychiatry. Specifically, it found that people hospitalized for an episode of mania had more than three times the odds of having ever eaten nitrate-cured meats than people without a history of a serious psychiatric disorder.

Experiments in rats by the same researchers showed mania-like hyperactivity after just a few weeks on diets with added nitrates.

While a number of genetic and other risk factors have been linked to the manic episodes that characterize bipolar disorder and may occur in other psychiatric conditions, those factors have been unable to explain the cause of these mental illnesses, and researchers are increasingly looking for environmental factors, such as diet, that may play a role.

The researchers say that their new study adds to evidence that certain diets and potentially the amounts and types of bacteria in the gut may contribute to mania and other disorders that affect the brain.

“Future work on this association could lead to dietary interventions to help reduce the risk of manic episodes in those who have bipolar disorder or who are otherwise vulnerable to mania,” says lead author Robert Yolken, M.D., the Theodore and Vada Stanley Distinguished Professor of Neurovirology in Pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Mania, a state of elevated mood, arousal and energy that lasts weeks to months, is generally seen in people with bipolar disorder, but can also occur in those with schizoaffective disorder. Manic states can lead to dangerous risk-taking behavior and can include delusional thinking, and most of those affected experience multiple hospitalizations in the course of their psychiatric illness.

Bipolar disorder affects an estimated 1 to 3 percent of the population of the United States and costs an estimated $25 billion a year in direct health care costs, according to a study in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

Yolken, trained as an infectious disease expert, was originally interested in whether exposure to infections such as viruses transmitted through food might be linked to any psychiatric conditions. Between 2007 and 2017, as part of an ongoing study, he and colleagues collected demographic, health and dietary data on 1,101 individuals aged 18 through 65 with and without psychiatric disorders. Approximately 55 percent of the participants were female and 55 percent were Caucasian, with 36 percent identifying as African-American.

Those with psychiatric disorders were recruited from patients receiving care at the Sheppard Pratt Health System in Baltimore. Individuals with no history of psychiatric disorders were recruited from posted announcements at local health care facilities and universities in the region.

A study of their records between 2007 and 2017 showed that, unexpectedly, among people who had been hospitalized for mania, a history of eating cured meat before hospitalization were approximately 3.5 times higher than the group of people without a psychiatric disorder. Cured meats were not associated with a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder in people not hospitalized for mania or in major depressive disorder. No other foods about which participants were queried had a significant association with any of the disorders, or with mania.

“We looked at a number of different dietary exposures and cured meat really stood out,” says Yolken. “It wasn’t just that people with mania have an abnormal diet.”

Nitrates have long been used as preservatives in cured meat products and have been previously linked to some cancers and neurodegenerative diseases, so Yolken suspected they may also explain the link to mood states such as mania.

The dietary survey did not ask about frequency or time frame of cured meat consumption, so the researchers couldn’t draw conclusions about exactly how much cured meat boosts one’s risk of mania, but Yolken hopes future studies will address this.

To get at the roots of the association, Yolken collaborated with researchers studying the impact of nitrates on rats.

Kellie Tamashiro, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and M.D./Ph.D. student Seva Khambadkone, both of Johns Hopkins, and others divided a group of otherwise healthy rats into two groups: one received normal rat chow, and the other received both normal chow and a piece of store-bought, nitrate-prepared beef jerky every other day. Within two weeks, the rats receiving the jerky showed irregular sleeping patterns and hyperactivity.

Next, the team worked with a Baltimore-based beef jerky company to create a special nitrate-free dried beef. They repeated the experiment, this time giving some rats the store-bought, nitrate-prepared jerky and others the nitrate-free formulation. The animals that ate the nitrate-free meat behaved similarly to a control group, while the animals that consumed the nitrates once again showed sleep disturbances and hyperactivity similar to that seen in patients with mania–increased activity during normal sleep times and in new environments.

The results were then replicated with a specially formulated rat chow that had either nitrate added directly to the chow, or no nitrate.

Importantly, the amount of nitrate being consumed on a daily basis by the rats¾when scaled up to the size of a human–was equivalent to the amount a person might eat for a daily snack, such as one beef jerky stick or hot dog.

“We tried to make sure the amount of nitrate used in the experiment was in the range of what people might reasonably be eating,” says Yolken.

When the group analyzed the gut bacteria of the different groups of rats, they found that animals with nitrate in their diet had different patterns of bacteria living in their intestines than the other rats. Moreover, the animals had differences in several molecular pathways in the brain that have been previously implicated in bipolar disorder.

While the team also cautions that it’s too early to take any clinical messages from the results, and occasional cured meat consumption is unlikely to spur a manic episode in most of the population, Yolken says the findings add to evidence of the multiple factors that contribute to mania and bipolar disorder.

“It’s clear that mania is a complex neuropsychiatric state, and that both genetic vulnerabilities and environmental factors are likely involved in the emergence and severity of bipolar disorder and associated manic episodes,” says Khambadkone. “Our results suggest that nitrated cured meat could be one environmental player in mediating mania.”

Yolken’s group recently published results of a separate study showing that when people with bipolar disorder are given probiotics–which can change the composition of gut bacteria–after a manic episode, they are less likely to be rehospitalized in the following six months. “There’s growing evidence that germs in the intestines can influence the brain,” says Yolken. “And this work on nitrates opens the door for future studies on how that may be happening.”

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Other authors on the paper include Zachary Cordner, Emily Severance, Emese Prandovszky, Mikhail Pletnikov, Jianchun Xiao, Ye Li, Gretha Boersma, C. Conover Talbot Jr., and Timothy Moran of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Faith Dickerson of the Sheppard Pratt Health System; Wayne Campbell and Christian S. Wright of Purdue University; and C. Evan Siple of Mobtown Meat Snacks.

This work was supported by a National Institute of Mental Health Silvio O. Conte Center grant (MH-94268) and by the Stanley Medical Research Institute.

Consumption of fast food linked with asthma and other allergic diseases

Public Release: 5-Jul-2018

Wiley

A new Respirology review and analysis of published studies reveals a link between fast food consumption and an increased likelihood of having asthma, wheeze, and several other allergic diseases such as pollen fever, eczema, and rhino-conjunctivitis.

The analysis included 16 studies. In terms of different types of fast food consumption, hamburger intake was most prominently associated with allergic diseases in a dose-dependent manner, irrespective of consumers’ income.

The authors note that poor quality diet is likely to contribute to the development and progression of asthma and wheeze via multiple mechanisms. “Additional studies are needed to confirm the relationships seen in this analysis, however, and to identify potential causal associations between the consumption of fast food and allergic diseases,” said senior author Dr. Gang Wang, of West China Hospital, Sichuan University.

Exposure to paint, varnish, other solvents linked to increased risk of MS

Public Release: 3-Jul-2018

American Academy of Neurology

MINNEAPOLIS – People who have been exposed to paint, varnish and other solvents and who also carry genes that make them more susceptible to developing multiple sclerosis (MS) may be at much greater risk of developing the disease than people who have only the exposure to solvents or the MS genes, according to a study published in the July 3, 2018, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

People with exposure to paint or other solvents are 50 percent more likely to develop MS than people with no exposure. People with exposure to solvents who also carry the genes that make them more susceptible to MS are nearly seven times as likely to develop the disease as people with no solvent exposure who do not carry the MS genes.

For people who have been smokers, the risk is even greater. Those who have been smokers with solvent exposure and the MS genes are 30 times more likely to develop MS than those who have never smoked or been exposed to solvents and who do not have the genetic risk factors.

“These are significant interactions where the factors have a much greater effect in combination than they do on their own,” said study author Anna Hedström, MD, PhD, of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. “More research is needed to understand how these factors interact to create this risk. It’s possible that exposure to solvents and smoking may both involve lung inflammation and irritation that leads to an immune reaction in the lungs.”

For the study, researchers identified 2,042 people who had recently been diagnosed with MS in Sweden and matched them with 2,947 people of the same age and sex. Blood tests were used to determine whether the participants had two human leukocyte antigen gene variants, one of which makes people more likely to develop MS and the other reduces the risk of MS. The participants were also asked whether they had been exposed to organic solvents, painting products or varnish and whether they had ever been a smoker.

In the group with neither of the MS genes and no smoking or exposure to solvents, there were 139 people with MS and 525 people without the disease. In the group with the MS genes and exposure to solvents but no smoking, there were 34 people with MS and 19 people without the disease. In the group with MS genes and exposure to solvents and smoking, there were 40 people with MS and five people without the disease.

The researchers determined that the MS genes and exposure to solvents combined were responsible for an estimated 60 percent of the risk of developing MS.

“How this cocktail of MS genes, organic solvents and smoking contributes so significantly to MS risk warrants investigation,” said Gabriele C. DeLuca, MD, DPhil, of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom and a member of the American Academy of Neurology, in an accompanying editorial. “In the meantime, avoiding cigarette smoke and unnecessary exposure to organic solvents, particularly in combination with each other, would seem reasonable lifestyle changes people can take to reduce the risk of MS, especially in people with a family history of the disease.”

One limitation of the study was that participants were asked to remember any exposure they had to solvents, so it is possible that they may not have remembered correctly.

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The study was funded by the Swedish Medical Research Council, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, AFA Insurance, Swedish Brain Foundation and Neuro Sweden.

Learn more about multiple sclerosis at http://www.BrainandLife.org, the American Academy of Neurology’s free patient and caregiver magazine and website focused on the intersection of neurologic disease and brain health. Follow Brain & LifeTM on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The American Academy of Neurology is the world’s largest association of neurologists and neuroscience professionals, with over 34,000 members. The AAN is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, concussion, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.

For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit http://www.aan.com or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.

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Mandatory labels reduce GMO food fears

Public Release: 27-Jun-2018

 

Consumer attitudes toward genetically modified food improved by 19 percent after mandatory labeling in Vermont, compared to the rest of the US

University of Vermont

As the U.S. Department of Agriculture prepares guidelines for labeling products that contain genetically modified ingredients, a new study from the University of Vermont reveals that a simple disclosure can improve consumer attitudes toward GMO food.

Led by Jane Kolodinsky, an applied economist in UVM’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the study compared levels of consumer opposition to GMO foods in Vermont – the only U.S. state to have implemented a mandatory labeling policy – with consumer attitudes in the rest of the U.S. The analysis showed opposition to GMO food fell by 19% in Vermont after the implementation of mandatory labels.

The study is the first to examine the real-world impact of consumer attitudes toward GMO foods in a state where consumers were exposed to mandatory GMO labels.

“Our findings put to bed the idea that GMO labels will be seen as a warning label,” said Kolodinsky, professor and chair of the Department of Community Development and Applied Economics and a Fellow of UVM’s Gund Institute for the Environment. “What we’re seeing is that simple disclosures, like the ones implemented in Vermont, are not going to scare people away from these products.”

NATIONAL DEBATE

Published today in Science Advances, the research provides timely new evidence in a longstanding national debate over the impact of mandatory GMO labeling policies on consumer attitudes.

Several studies, including past research by Kolodinsky, show consumers consistently express a desire for labels on GMO foods, but mandatory labeling has been opposed by some manufacturers and scientific organizations for fear that the labels would be perceived as warning signs and might signal that a product is unsafe or harmful to the environment.

Despite numerous scientific studies that have shown that GMO foods are safe, nationwide, the majority of consumers express opposition to the use of GMO technologies, a trend that has been steadily increasing over the past decade.

“We’re finding that both in real-world and hypothetical studies, the introduction of a simple disclosure label can actually improve consumer attitudes toward these technologies. In a state that has been such a hot bed for GMO opposition, to see this change is striking,” said Kolodinsky, who has tracked attitudes to GMOs in Vermont since 2003.

Kolodinsky’s latest study, with co-author Jayson Lusk of Purdue University’s Department of Agricultural Economics, suggests a simple, straightforward label disclosing whether a product is “produced or partially produced using GMO ingredients” may improve consumer confidence in GMO technologies and enable consumers to make an informed decision.

However, proposed national labeling regulations released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in May, seek a narrower definition of genetic engineering and propose alternatives to simple labeling disclosures. The draft guidelines also propose changing the labeling terminology from GMO to “bioengineered” or “BE”, a new descriptor for genetic engineering that is unfamiliar to most of the general public.

The USDA has invited public comments on the draft guidance through July 3, 2018.

VERMONT AS A CASE STUDY

While several states introduced bills to require labeling of GMO foods, Vermont became the first and only U.S. state to implement a mandatory labeling initiative in July 2016 before the new federal legislation came into effect.

Kolodinsky, who collected data on Vermonters’ attitudes toward GMO food before and after the labeling policy was implemented, combined her results with Lusk’s national data. Taken together, the study analyzed attitudes of over 7,800 consumers from 2014-2017 who ranked their attitude toward GMO food using a one to five scale. When controlling for demographic factors, opposition to genetic engineering fell significantly in Vermont after mandatory labeling, whereas opposition continued to increase nationwide.

“One of the concerns many people, including myself, expressed about mandating GMO labels is that consumers might see the label as a type of warning signal and increase aversion to the label. This research shows that this particular concern about mandatory GMO labels is likely misplaced,” said co-author Lusk.

Kolodinsky and Lusk note the findings are consistent with prior research that suggest “labels give consumers a sense of control, which has been shown to be related to risk perception.” Indeed, some food manufacturers, including General Mills and Campbells, continue to voluntarily label GMO food products citing consumer demand for transparency.

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Funding support for the research came from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Willard Sparks Chair at Oklahoma State University.

Possible link found between diabetes and common white pigment

Public Release: 20-Jun-2018

 

University of Texas at Austin

In a pilot study by a team of researchers at The University of Texas at Austin, crystalline particles of titanium dioxide — the most common white pigment in everyday products ranging from paint to candies — were found in pancreas specimens with Type 2 diabetes, suggesting that exposure to the white pigment is associated with the disease.

Titanium dioxide (TiO2) is not a known constituent of any normal human tissue. Our body normally has plenty of salts and compounds of metallic elements such as sodium, potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium, as well as lesser amounts of other metallic elements like cobalt or molybdenum but not of titanium.

The team examined 11 pancreas specimens, eight of which were from donors who had Type 2 diabetes (T2D) and three from donors who did not. Whereas the three non-diabetic pancreatic tissue specimens contained no detectable TiO2 crystals, the crystals were detected in all of the eight T2D pancreatic tissue specimens. The UT Austin researchers found more than 200 million TiO2 crystallites per gram of TiO2 particles in the specimens from T2D donors but not in the three specimens from non-diabetic donors. They published their findings last month in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology.

The UT study was led by Adam Heller, professor in the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering in the Cockrell School of Engineering, a 2007 recipient of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation and a lifelong champion for diabetes research. Heller was a leading member of the teams that designed FreeStyle, the first painless blood-glucose-monitoring system used by millions of people with diabetes worldwide; and the glucose-sensing technology of the FreeStyle Libre system, developed by Abbott Diabetes Care.

“Our initial findings raise the possibility that Type 2 diabetes could be a chronic crystal-associated inflammatory disease of the pancreas, similar to chronic crystal-caused inflammatory diseases of the lung such as silicosis and asbestosis,” Heller said.

In the mid-20th century, titanium dioxide pigment replaced highly toxic lead-based pigments. It became the most commonly used white pigment in paints and in foods, medications, toothpaste, cosmetics, plastics and paper. As a result, annual production of titanium dioxide has increased by 4 million tons since the 1960s.

According to the World Health Organization, the number of people with diabetes has quadrupled during the past four decades, affecting approximately 425 million people, with T2D comprising the majority of recorded cases. Although obesity and an aging population are still considered major factors leading to a rise in T2D cases worldwide, Heller’s study suggests that increased use of titanium dioxide may also be linked to the rapid rise in the number of people suffering from the disease.

“The increased use of titanium dioxide over the last five decades could be a factor in the Type 2 diabetes epidemic,” Heller said. “The dominant T2D-associated pancreatic particles consist of TiO2 crystals, which are used as a colorant in foods, medications and indoor wall paint, and they are transported to the pancreas in the bloodstream. The study raises the possibility that humanity’s increasing use of TiO2 pigment accounts for part of the global increase in the incidence of T2D.”

Given the wide-reaching implications of his findings, Heller is keen to repeat the study, but this time using a larger sample. “We have already begun a broader study,” he said. “Our work isn’t over yet.”

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Heller collaborated with researchers Karalee Jarvis of the Cockrell School’s Texas Materials Institute and Sheryl Coffman of the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering. The pancreatic specimens enabling the study were provided by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation nPOD at the University of Florida at Gainesville.

The study was supported in part by the Welch Foundation.

BPA can induce multigenerational effects on ability to communicate

Public Release: 18-Jun-2018

Findings could shed light on human health concerns and autism

University of Missouri-Columbia

Past studies have shown that biparental care of offspring can be affected negatively when females and males are exposed to bisphenol A (BPA); however, previous studies have not characterized how long-term effects of BPA exposure in grandmothers and grandfathers might affect offspring communication ability. In a study published today in the journal PLOS One, researchers at the University of Missouri found that mice pups whose grandparents had been exposed to BPA, had different vocalization patterns. This, in turn, could also affect the amount of parental care they received. Scientists believe results could have important relevance to humans.

“Rodent pups use vocalizations to communicate with one or both parents, as in the case of biparental species, such as California mice,” said Cheryl Rosenfeld, professor of biomedical sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine, investigator in the Bond Life Sciences Center, and research faculty member for the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurobehavioral Disorders at MU. “There are potential concerns that developmental exposure to BPA might increase an infant’s risk for autism spectrum disorder. Crying is the infant’s earliest communication form and changes in crying vocalization patterns might provide the earliest diagnostic tool for autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Thus, it is important to determine whether multigenerational exposure to BPA can alter pup vocalization patterns.”

The California mouse is used as a model for examining parental behaviors because they are monogamous and, much like humans, both male and female partners contribute to neonatal-rearing. Impaired care could lead to adverse consequences for the young and, since brain regions and hormones regulating biparental behaviors appear to be similar across species, this study likely has human implications.

Bisphenol A is a chemical that is used in a variety of consumer products, such as water bottles, dental composites and resins used to line metal food and beverage containers. These endocrine disruptors affect the global regulatory pathways of the brain often mimicking the function of natural hormones in animals and humans during crucial stages of development.

For the study, researchers exposed female and male California mice to one of three diets. One contained BPA; the second contained concentrations of ethinyl estradiol, another endocrine disruptor; and the third was free of endocrine disruptors. The offspring were placed on a endocrine disruptor-free diet when they were weaned and throughout their lifespan. Finally, the vocalization patterns of the third generation of mice, which also were not directly exposed to BPA or EE, were examined.

The grandoffspring were tested in “recording boxes” in isolation and away from their home-cages. There, the pups were recorded at intervals on given days that represented different times in their development. Vocalizations were measured for duration, as well as patterns or “syllables,” which represent phrases that pups emit when calling their parents for care. These vocalizations were then measured against pups that were not exposed to BPA or ethinyl estradiol (EE).

“We found that during specific postnatal periods, BPA and EE exposed, second-generation pups demonstrated augmented vocalization responses, which could indicate that they are in distress,” Rosenfeld said. “This could be problematic as their heightened vocalization patterns at certain postnatal days might also suggest they are perceiving and responding to the compromised parental care, as we have already shown, but yet, the parents are not adjusting the amount of parental care provided in response to their increased vocalizations. Such effects might also be attributed to multigenerational exposure to BPA and EE and suggest that even from early postnatal life grandoffspring whose grandparents were exposed to these endocrine disruptors are showing mental distress. While more work needs to be done, the multigenerational effects observed in California mice pups could thus also have ties to human communication deficits as seen in people with autism or other neurobehavioral disorders.”

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The study, “Multigenerational effects of Bisphenol-A or Ethinyl Estradiol Exposure on F2 California Mice (Peromyscus californicus) pup vocalizations,” was funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Grant (5R21ES023150) and was published in the journal PLOS One. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of either funding agency.

Editor’s Note: For more on the story, as well as recordings of California mice vocalizations, please see the Bond Life Sciences Center’s blog: https://decodingscience.missouri.edu/2018/06/17/a-sound-generational-difference/

Is a common antimicrobial harmful to gut health?

Public Release: 30-May-2018

 

American Association for the Advancement of Science

IMAGE

Caption

Exposure to triclosan (TCS) exacerbated the severity of colitis and inflammation in mice. This material relates to a paper that appeared in the May 30 issue of Science Translational Medicine, published by AAAS. The paper, by H. Yang at University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Mass.; and colleagues was titled, “A common antimicrobial additive increases colonic inflammation and colitis-associated colon tumorigenesis in mice.”

Credit: H. Yang et al., Science Translational Medicine (2018)

Scientists have discovered that triclosan, an antimicrobial additive found in thousands of consumer products, causes colon inflammation and exacerbates colon cancer in mice. Their sobering results suggest that health authorities may want to investigate if they should reassess regulatory policies regarding the usage of this common ingredient. Triclosan is found in more than 2,000 consumer products ranging from toothpaste to cosmetics and toys, and is so widespread that the entire U.S. population is exposed to it at some point in their life. Research has suggested that triclosan can have toxic effects at high doses, but the health effects of lower concentrations that a person might be exposed to remain unclear. Here, Haixia Yang and colleagues fed mice with food containing various concentrations of triclosan for three weeks. They found that mice treated with a concentration of triclosan that reflects the concentrations reported in human blood samples displayed more systemic and colonic inflammation compared to control animals. Furthermore, triclosan exposure increased the severity of colon inflammation in mouse models of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) – an effect that persisted even when low doses of the chemical were administered. Triclosan treatment also increased tumor size and reduced survival in a separate group of rodents with colon cancer. Interestingly, triclosan reduced the diversity of commensal bacteria in the gut of mice, and germ-free mice were protected from the harmful effects, suggesting its pro-inflammatory actions may arise due to alteration of the gut microbiome. The authors stress that further studies should assess the impact of triclosan on human gut health, and determine whether individuals with IBD or colon cancer could be more vulnerable to any adverse effects.

Recycled electrical products lead to hazardous chemicals appearing in everyday items

Public Release: 30-May-2018

 

 

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IMAGE: Dr. Andrew Turner with items made of black plastic that were tested as part of the research.

Credit: University of Plymouth

Hazardous chemicals such as bromine, antimony and lead are finding their way into food-contact items and other everyday products because manufacturers are using recycled electrical equipment as a source of black plastic, according to a new study.

The substances are among those applied to devices, such as laptops and music systems, as flame retardants and pigments but remain within the products when they reach the end of their useful lives.

Now scientists at the University of Plymouth have shown that a combination of the growing demand for black plastic and the inefficient sorting of end-of-life electrical equipment is causing contaminated material to be introduced into the recyclate.

This is in part because despite black plastics constituting about 15% of the domestic waste stream, this waste material is not readily recycled owing to the low sensitivity of black pigments to near infrared radiation used in conventional plastic sorting facilities.

The study is published in Environmental International and was conducted by Dr Andrew Turner, a Reader in Environmental Science at the University.

As well as posing a threat to human health, he says the study demonstrates there are potentially harmful effects for the marine and coastal environment either through the spread of the products as litter or as microplastics.

For this research, Dr Turner used XRF spectrometry to assess the levels of a range of elements in more than 600 black plastic products such as food-contact items, storage, clothing, toys, jewellery, office items and new and old electronic and electrical equipment.

Bromine, in the form of brominated compounds, is and has been used in electrical plastic housings as a flame retardant, while lead is often encountered in electronic plastics as a contaminant. However, both elements were found extensively in non-electrical black consumer products tested, where they are not needed or desirable.

In many products, including cocktail stirrers, coathangers, various items of plastic jewellery, garden hosing, Christmas decorations and tool handles, concentrations of bromine potentially exceeded legal limits that are designed for electrical items. In other products, including various toys, storage containers and office equipment, concentrations of lead exceeded its legal limit for electrical items.

Speaking about the current study, Dr Turner said: “There are environmental and health impacts arising from the production and use of plastics in general, but black plastics pose greater risks and hazards. This is due to the technical and economic constraints imposed on the efficient sorting and separation of black waste for recycling, coupled with the presence of harmful additives required for production or applications in the electronic and electrical equipment and food packaging sectors.”

“Black plastic may be aesthetically pleasing, but this study confirms that the recycling of plastic from electronic waste is introducing harmful chemicals into consumer products. That is something the public would obviously not expect, or wish, to see and there has previously been very little research exploring this. In order to address this, further scientific research is needed. But there is also a need for increased innovation within the recycling industry to ensure harmful substances are eliminated from recycled waste and to increase the recycling of black plastic consumer products.”

This research is the latest work by Dr Turner examining the presence of toxic substances within everyday products. He has previously conducted research which showed that decorated drinking glasses can contain harmful levels of lead and cadmium, that the plastic used in second hand toys often fails to meet international safety directives, and that playground paints should be more closely monitored to reduce potential danger to public health.

Using Tinder doesn’t result in more casual sex

Public Release: 18-May-2018

Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Users of picture-based mobile dating apps like Tinder are generally more open to short-term, casual sexual relationships than the average person.

But this doesn’t mean that the users of these apps end up with more sexual partners than non-users with the same preference for casual sex.

“Apps have become the new public arena for dating. But to a large extent, the people using them are the same ones you find dating other ways,” says professor Leif Edward Ottesen Kennair at NTNU’s Department of Psychology.

Same number of casual sex partners

So-called “sociosexual orientation” refers to how open you are to short-term sexual relationships that don’t lead to a committed relationship. The most open, or unrestricted, users tend to use picture-based dating apps more often than most people do.

“But dating app users don’t have more casual sexual partners than others with the same short-term preference,” says Mons Bendixen, an associate professor at NTNU’s Department of Psychology.

The apps have simply become a new way to meet up. People use dating apps instead of – or in addition to – finding a partner in town, at work, at a meeting, on a hike or when doing something else in their free time. But the end result is about the same.

According to Trond Viggo Grøntvedt, a researcher in NTNU’s Department of Public Health and Nursing, “nothing suggests that people use dating apps more because they are more or less attractive as a sexual partner than most people.”

The results of the researchers’ new study were recently published in the online journal Personality and Individual Differences.

Discerning women, eager men

Men and women use the dating apps somewhat differently.

Women spend more time on dating apps than men do. This may be because women take longer to consider each candidate before deciding to move on, whatever their decision turns out to be.

Men are more efficient. They persue more candidates in less time, and make more swift decisions about whether a candidate is someone they want to meet up with or not. They are also more likely to initiate contact than women are.

“Men more often start conversations and contact matches, and they’re more willing to meet partners through dating apps in private settings,” says Bendixen.

On Tinder and similar apps you get pictures and information about potential partners. You swipe right if you are interested in more contact, left if you’re not.

“Women are more discerning. Men are more eager. This has clear evolutionary reasons. Women have more to lose by engaging with low-quality sexual partners than men do. That’s why men swipe right more often than women do,” says Kennair.

Women want to feel better about themselves

The study also looked at the reasons people use Tinder and similar picture-based dating apps.

For both women and men, the most important reason for using Tinder was purely as a diversion. When they were bored or had nothing else to do, they would take a look at Tinder to see who was there. But then the sexes differed in their reasons.

“Men tend to report a desire for casual sex and short-term relationships as a reason for using dating apps. But it should be noted that the myth that men on dating apps are only looking for casual sex isn’t accurate. Men who use these apps also seek long-term partners, but to a lesser extent than short-term partners,” says first author and clinical psychologist Ernst Olav Botnen.

Women are more often looking for confirmation that they are attractive.

“Women use dating apps to feel better about themselves more than men do,” says Bendixen.

Being perceived as a potential partner by other users is regarded as positive.

Infidelity a factor?

Only a small minority of the study participants, eight people, were in a relationship while using dating apps. Using Tinder as a tool to be unfaithful thus appears to be relatively rare, but the researchers did not examine that question in this study.

The new app technology is primarily a new arena for short-term sex, and not necessarily a development that is leading to a change in sexual behaviour, say Kennair and Bendixen.

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Source: Individual differences in sociosexuality predict picture-based mobile dating app use. Ernst Olav Botnen, Mons Bendixen, Trond Viggo Grøntvedt, Leif Edward Ottesen Kennair. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2018.04.021

Study participants

The study included the responses of 641 students at NTNU between the ages of 19 and 29.

About half of the students had used dating apps. About one in five of this group currently uses dating apps.

Bitcoin estimated to use half a percent of the world’s electric energy by end of 2018

Public Release: 16-May-2018

Cell Press

Bitcoin’s burgeoning electricity demands have attracted almost as much attention as the cryptocurrency’s wildly fluctuating value. But estimating exactly how much electricity the Bitcoin network uses, necessary for understanding its impact and implementing policy, remains a challenge. In the first rigorously peer-reviewed article quantifying Bitcoin’s energy requirements, a Commentary appearing May 16 in the journal Joule, financial economist and blockchain specialist Alex de Vries uses a new methodology to pinpoint where Bitcoin’s electric energy consumption is headed and how soon it might get there.

“We’ve seen a lot of back-of-the-envelope calculations, but we need more scientific discussion on where this network is headed. Right now, the information available is pretty poor quality overall, so I’m hoping that people will use this paper as a foundation for more research,” says de Vries, who works at the Experience Center of PwC in the Netherlands and is the founder of Digiconomist (@DigiEconomist), a blog that aims to better inform cryptocurrency users.

His estimates, based in economics, put the minimum current usage of the Bitcoin network at 2.55 gigawatts, which means it uses almost as much electricity as Ireland. A single transaction uses as much electricity as an average household in the Netherlands uses in a month. By the end of this year, he predicts the network could be using as much as 7.7 gigawatts–as much as Austria and half of a percent of the world’s total consumption. “To me, half a percent is already quite shocking. It’s an extreme difference compared to the regular financial system, and this increasing electricity demand is definitely not going to help us reach our climate goals,” he says. If the price of Bitcoin continues to increase the way some experts have predicted, de Vries believes the network could someday consume 5% of the world’s electricity. “That would be quite bad.”

Bitcoin is dependent on computers that time-stamp transactions into an ongoing chain to prevent duplicate spending of coins. Computers in the network perform calculations continuously, competing for the chance, once every ten minutes, to be appointed to create the next block of transactions in the chain. The user of the computer that wins is awarded 12.5 new coins–a process known as “mining” Bitcoin. But all the time, even the users that don’t win are expending computing power. “You are generating numbers the whole time and the machines you’re using for that use electricity. But if you want to get a bigger slice of the pie, you need to increase your computing power. So there’s a big incentive for people to increase how much they’re spending on electricity and on machines,” de Vries says.

It’s figuring out when that incentive stops paying off that is at the heart of de Vries’s estimation method. Economic principles suggest that the entire Bitcoin network will eventually reach an equilibrium where the costs of the hardware and electricity used to mine equal the value of the Bitcoin being mined. And that information can approximate the total amount of electricity that the network will use at said equilibrium.

Other researchers have used the fundamentals of this method before, but de Vries goes farther. He uses production information about Bitmain, the biggest manufacturer of Bitcoin mining machines, to estimate both how much of a miner’s costs are associated with hardware rather than electricity and when this equilibrium might be reached. And while he does have confidence in his estimates, the problem with this method is that these manufacturers are extremely secretive. “Sometimes the best information we’ve got is really shaky eyewitness accounts. That’s the stuff we have to work with,” he says.

Still, he believes that getting a good estimate is important in determining the sustainability of cryptocurrencies moving forward and in helping shape policy around them. Some states in the U.S. have already started to put restrictions around Bitcoin mining. “But you need to base your policy on something. And I think that my method is important in that regard, because it’s very forward-looking. It’s focused not on the now, but on where we’re headed. And I think that’s something you really need to know if you’re going to draft policy about it,” he says.

He also points out that there is plenty of room for discussion of his method. “I think everyone agrees on the minimum energy consumption. But the future estimate? That’s actually quite debatable. We don’t really have a common approach to getting to a future estimate of electricity consumption right now, which is why I am hoping to get this conversation started. I’m doing this research, but a lot of people should be doing it.”

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Joule, de Vries: “Bitcoin’s Growing Energy Problem” http://www.cell.com/joule/fulltext/S2542-4351(18)30177-6

Joule (@Joule_CP) published monthly by Cell Press, is a new home for outstanding and insightful research, analysis, and ideas addressing the need for more sustainable energy. A sister journal to Cell, Joule spans all scales of energy research, from fundamental laboratory research into energy conversion and storage up to impactful analysis at the global level. Visit: http://www.cell.com/joule. To receive Cell Press media alerts, contact press@cell.com.

Food packaging could be negatively affecting nutrient absorption in your body

Public Release: 9-Apr-2018

 

Binghamton University

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. – Food packaging could be negatively affecting the way in which your digestive tract operates, according to new research by faculty and students at Binghamton University, State University at New York.

“We found that zinc oxide (ZnO) nanoparticles at doses that are relevant to what you might normally eat in a meal or a day can change the way that your intestine absorbs nutrients or your intestinal cell gene and protein expression,” said Gretchen Mahler, associate professor of bioengineering.

According to Mahler, these ZnO nanoparticles are present in the lining of certain canned goods for their antimicrobial properties and to prevent staining of sulfur-producing foods. In the study, canned corn, tuna, asparagus and chicken were studied using mass spectrometry to estimate how many particles might be transferred to the food. It was found that the food contained 100 times the daily dietary allowance of zinc. Mahler then looked at the effect the particles had on the digestive tract.

“People have looked at the effects of nanoparticles on intestinal cells before, but they tend to work with really high doses and look for obvious toxicity, like cell death,” said Mahler. “We are looking at cell function, which is a much more subtle effect, and looking at nanoparticle doses that are closer to what you might really be exposed to.”

“They tend to settle onto the cells representing the gastrointestinal tract and cause remodeling or loss of the microvilli, which are tiny projections on the surface of the intestinal absorptive cells that help to increase the surface area available for absorption,” said Mahler. “This loss of surface area tends to result in a decrease in nutrient absorption. Some of the nanoparticles also cause pro-inflammatory signaling at high doses, and this can increase the permeability of the intestinal model. An increase in intestinal permeability is not a good thing — it means that compounds that are not supposed to pass through into the bloodstream might be able to.”

Although Mahler studied these effects in the lab, she said she is unsure what the long-term health implications might be.

“It is difficult to say what the long-term effects of nanoparticle ingestion are on human health, especially based on results from a cell culture model,” said Mahler. “What I can say is that our model shows that the nanoparticles do have effects on our in vitro model, and that understanding how they affect gut function is an important area of study for consumer safety.”

The researchers are looking at how an animal model (chickens) responds to nanoparticle ingestion.

“We have seen that our cell culture results are similar to results found in animals and that the gut microbial populations are affected. Future work will focus on these food additive-gut microbiome interactions,” said Mahler.

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This is the first research that analyzes how ZnO nanoparticles affect the human body. The study was done by Mahler, Fabiola Morena-Olivas, a graduate student studying biomedical engineering, and their collaborator Elad Tako from the Plant, Soil and Nutrition Laboratory, Agricultural Research Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Ithaca, N.Y. The research is funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

The study, “ZnO nanoparticles affect intestinal function in an in vitro model,” was published in the journal Food and Function.

Artificial sweetener Splenda could intensify symptoms in those with Crohn’s disease

Public Release: 15-Mar-2018

 

Promotes ‘bad’ bacteria and intestinal inflammation; findings may guide dietary habits in human patients

Case Western Reserve University

In a study that has implications for humans with inflammatory diseases, researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and colleagues have found that, given over a six-week period, the artificial sweetener sucralose, known by the brand name Splenda, worsens gut inflammation in mice with Crohn’s-like disease, but had no substantive effect on those without the condition. Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease of the digestive tract, which can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, bloody stools, weight loss, and fatigue. About 10-15 percent of human patients report that sweeteners worsen their disease.

The new findings, recently published in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, revealed increases in the numbers of Proteobacteria, a large phylum [group] of microbes, in the intestines of mice drinking water supplemented with Splenda. Half of the mice studied, belonging to a genetic line that suffers a form of Crohn’s disease were more affected than the remaining half of mice, which belong to a healthy mouse line. Splenda produced intestinal overgrowth of E. coli (a member of the Proteobacteria group) and increased bacterial penetration into the gut wall, but only in Crohn’s disease-like mice.

The researchers also found that Splenda ingestion results in increased myeloperoxidase activity in the intestines of mice with the bowel disease, but not in the healthy mice. Myeloperoxidase is an enzyme in leukocytes (white blood cells) that is effective in killing various microorganisms. The inference is that the increased presence of E. coli intensified the myeloperoxidase activity in the bowel as the body sought to fight off the invader. The findings suggest that consumption of Splenda may increase myeloperoxidase production only in individuals with a pro-inflammatory predisposition, such as Crohn’s disease or other forms of inflammatory bowel disease patients. As part of this process, inflammation and its attendant consequences could exacerbate the symptoms of Crohn’s disease.

“Our findings suggest that patients with Crohn’s disease should think carefully about consuming Splenda or similar products containing sucralose and maltodextrin,” said the study’s lead author, Alex Rodriguez-Palacios, DVM, MSc, DVSc, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine. “Several studies have examined the ingredients found in this widely available product, separately. Here, we used Splenda as a means to test the combined effect of the commercial ingredients and used one of the best animal models of ileal Crohn’s disease.” This study demonstrates that the sweetener induces changes in gut bacteria and gut wall immune cell reactivity, which could result in inflammation or disease flare ups in susceptible people. On the other hand, the study suggests that individuals free of intestinal diseases may not need to be overly concerned.”

Splenda, which was introduced in 1998, includes a thought-to-be indigestible artificial sweetener called sucralose and a digestible sweetener called maltodextrin. It is about 600 times as sweet as sugar and has become one of the most popular artificial sweeteners on the market. “This is perhaps the closest we can get to provide experimental evidence that these ingredients together induce biological changes known to cause inflammation which could be harmful over time to susceptible animal subjects,” said Rodriguez-Palacios. “Our next step would be to run experiments directly in patients, but that is more difficult to conduct given the large variability that is inherent to human genetics, microbiome and diet.”

Proteobacteria– the guilty party

Proteobacteria include a wide variety of pathogens, such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Legionellales (which causes Legionnaires’ disease.) A certain amount of these bacteria are normal in the body, and not harmful. Overgrowth, or excessive amounts, contributes to many health problems. Proteobacteria have previously been linked with various intestinal-tract diseases in several species, including humans. Most Proteobacteria have an outer membrane composed of lipopolysaccharides, which when present in the body, generally trigger powerful immune responses, including inflammation. Inflammation is the normal response of the body’s immune system to injuries and invading organisms. During the process of combating the invader [“antigen”], symptoms such as pain, warmth, swelling, and redness can occur. If the invader, such as E. coli, is successfully repelled, the symptoms dissipate. But if the invader is not eradicated from the body, chronic inflammation may develop, or persist, as it is the case in inflammatory bowel diseases.

“Our findings were due solely to the administration of a minor component of the diet,” said the study’s senior author Fabio Cominelli, MD, PhD, professor of medicine, at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and chief of gastroenterology at UH Cleveland Medical Center. “This suggests that other dietary habits or additives may lead to similar microbiota alterations. For instance, diet emulsifiers used as food additives have also been shown recently to alter the gut microbiota and promote colitis in mice. Other scenarios could put Crohn’s disease patients at risk of having exaggerated inflammation as well. This could include unexpected foodborne bacterial infections which would further recruit myeloperoxidase-containing leukocytes to the intestinal tract and the resultant inflammation.”

In addition to illustrating the experimental role of a sucralose-maltodextrin based artificial sweetener in promoting intestinal dysbiosis [a microbial imbalance] and myeloperoxidase activity, the studies indicate that it might be possible to measure Proteobacteria and myeloperoxidase as simultaneous fecal biomarkers in patients to monitor their gut (disease/health) adjustment to their diets.

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Funding for this work was provided by the National Institutes of Health Grants DK091222 (Germ-Free and Gut Microbiome Core) to FC and ARP, DK055812 and DK042191 to FC and by a Career Development Award from the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation to ARP. Further support was facilitated via the Mouse Models Core and the Histology/Imaging Core of the NIH P30 Silvio O. Conte Cleveland Digestive Disease Research Core Center (DK097948).

Alexander Rodriguez-Palacios, et. al. The Artificial Sweetener Splenda Promotes Gut Proteobacteria, Dysbiosis, and Myeloperoxidase Reactivity in Crohn’s Disease-Like Ileitis, Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, https://doi.org/10.1093/ibd/izy060

For more information about Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, please visit: case.edu/medicine.

Babies fed soy-based formula have changes in reproductive system tissues

Public Release: 12-Mar-2018

 

CHOP co-author of NIH-led study: Subtle estrogen-like responses in infants point to need for longer-term follow-up of effects

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

 

Infants who consumed soy-based formula as newborns had differences in some reproductive-system cells and tissues, compared to those who used cow-milk formula or were breastfed, according to a new study. The researchers say the differences, measured in the months after birth, were subtle and not a cause for alarm, but reflect a need to further investigate the long-term effects of exposure to estrogen-like compounds found in soy-based formulas.

“Soy formula contains high concentrations of plant-based estrogen-like compounds, and because this formula is the sole food source for many babies in the first six months of life, it’s important to understand the effects of exposure to such compounds during a critical period in development,” said Virginia A. Stallings, MD, director of the Nutrition Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Stallings is a senior author of a new study published online March 1 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

The study was funded and led by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the National Institutes of Health. The first author is Margaret A. Adgent, MSPH, PhD, formerly of NIEHS, now at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Adgent said, “Modern soy formula has been used safely for decades. However, our observational study found subtle effects in estrogen-responsive tissues in soy-fed infants, and we don’t know if these differences are associated with long-term health effects.”

Some mothers who don’t breastfeed have long used soy formula as an alternative to cow-milk formula, often from concerns about milk allergies, lactose intolerance, or other feeding difficulties. However, soy protein contains high amounts of genistein, an estrogen-like compound. Like other estrogen-mimicking chemicals found in the environment, genistein can alter the body’s endocrine system and potentially interfere with normal hormonal development. In laboratory studies genistein causes abnormal reproductive development and function in rodents, but little is known about its effects on infants.

The current study investigated the postnatal development of estrogen-responsive tissues, along with specific hormone levels, according to infant feeding practices. The researchers particularly compared infants fed with soy formula to those fed with cow-milk formula and breastfed infants.

Of 410 infant-mother pairs enrolled, 283 pairs completed the study. Of those, 102 infants exclusively fed on soy formula, 111 on cow-milk formula, and 70 on breast milk. “This was an observational study, not a randomized trial,” said Stallings. “All of the mothers had decided on their feeding preferences before we enrolled them in the study.”

Approximately half of the babies were girls, and 70 percent of the infants were African American. They were born in eight Philadelphia-area hospitals between 2010 and 2013, and enrolled in the Infant Feeding and Early Development (IFED) Study.

All of the infants were evaluated at CHOP, where researchers repeatedly performed measurements up to age 28 weeks in the boys and age 36 weeks in the girls. The study team assessed three sets of outcomes: a maturational index (MI) based on epithelial cells from the children’s urogenital tissue; ultrasound measurements of uterine, ovarian and testicular volume, as well as breast-buds; and hormone concentrations seen in blood tests.

“The main differences we found related to different feeding preferences were among the girls,” said Stallings. Compared to girls fed cow-milk formula, those fed soy formula had developmental trajectories consistent with responses to estrogen exposure. Vaginal cell MI was higher and uterine volume decreased more slowly in soy-fed girls, both of which suggest estrogen-like responses. The study team found similar patterns in differences between soy-fed girls and breastfed girls.

“We don’t know whether the effects we found have long-term consequences for health and development, but the question merits further study,” said Stallings. In addition to replication studies by other researchers, she added that ideally the children in this cohort should be followed later into childhood and adolescence.

She added, “For new and expectant mothers deciding on how to feed their infants, as always, we strongly support breast-feeding, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.” For mothers who prefer giving formula, the AAP does not recommend soy formula for preterm infants, but states that soy formula is indicated for infants with hereditary disorders that make them unable to properly digest milk, such as galactosemia and the rare condition hereditary lactase deficiency. It also recommends soy formula “in situations in which a vegetarian diet is preferred.”

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The NIEHS funded this study. Other NIEHS co-authors were David M. Umbach, PhD, and Walter J. Rogan, MD. Additional co-authors were from CHOP, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, LabCorp, Quest Diagnostics, and Social & Scientific Systems, Inc. Nestle and Mead Johnson Nutrition donated the formula used.

Margaret A. Adgent, et al, “A longitudinal study of estrogen-responsive tissues and hormone concentrations in infants fed soy formula,” Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, online March 1, 2018 http://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2017-02249

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia was founded in 1855 as the nation’s first pediatric hospital. Through its long-standing commitment to providing exceptional patient care, training new generations of pediatric healthcare professionals, and pioneering major research initiatives, Children’s Hospital has fostered many discoveries that have benefited children worldwide. Its pediatric research program is among the largest in the country. In addition, its unique family-centered care and public service programs have brought the 546-bed hospital recognition as a leading advocate for children and adolescents. For more information, visit http://www.chop.edu

Commercial pesticides: Not as safe as they seem

Public Release: 8-Mar-2018

 

Lack of information on the effects of all pesticide ingredients makes them appear safer than they are — potentially causing serious harm to people and the environment.

Frontiers

 

New regulations are needed to protect people and the environment from toxic pesticide ingredients that are not currently subject to safety assessments. This is the conclusion of the first comprehensive review of gaps in risk assessments for “adjuvants” – ingredients added to pesticide formulations to enhance the function or application of the active ingredient. Ignoring the potential dangers of other ingredients in commonly used commercial pesticides leads to inaccuracies in the safety profile of the pesticide solution, as well as confusion in scientific literature on pesticide effects, finds the review published in Frontiers in Public Health.

“Exposure to environmental levels of some of these adjuvant mixtures can affect non-target organisms — and even can cause chronic human disease,” says Dr Robin Mesnage from King’s College London, who co-wrote the review with Dr Michael Antoniou. “Despite this, adjuvants are not currently subject to an acceptable daily intake and are not included in the health risk assessment of dietary exposures to pesticide residues.”

Pesticides are a mixture of chemicals made up of an active ingredient – the substance that kills or repels a pest – along with a mixture of other ingredients that help with the application or function of the active ingredient. These other ingredients are known as adjuvants, and include dyes, anti-foaming agents and surfactants.

Regulatory tests for pesticide safety are currently only done on the active ingredient, which assumes the other ingredients have no effects. This means the full toxicity of a pesticide formulation — including those used in both agriculture and domestic gardens — is not shown.

“Currently, the health risk assessment of pesticides in the European Union and in the United States focuses almost exclusively on the active ingredient,” explains Dr Mesnage. “Despite the known toxicity of adjuvants, they are regulated differently from active principles, with their toxic effects being generally ignored.”

Based on a review of current pesticide literature, the authors describe how unregulated chemicals present in commercial formulations of pesticides could provide a missing link between pesticide exposure and observed negative outcomes.

The researchers focused on glyphosate-based herbicides, the most used pesticide worldwide. They point out that this weed killer has so many different adjuvant formulations that a safety test of one weed killer does not test the safety of another.

“Studies comparing the toxicity of commercial weed-killer formulations to that of glyphosate alone have shown that several formulations are up to 1,000 times more toxic than glyphosate on human cells. We believe that the adjuvants are responsible for this additional toxic effect,” says Dr Mesnage.

The authors also highlight neonicotinoid insecticides — strongly suspected to be involved in the collapsing of bee colonies — as another example of adjuvant toxicity affecting non-target organisms. An adjuvant used in these insecticides to increase the penetration of the active ingredient has been shown to cause varying toxic effects in bees. On top of this, residues of the toxin have also been found in honey, pollen and beeswax produced by contaminated bees.

The authors hope their review will stimulate discussion on the toxicity of commonly used pesticides and encourage more thorough regulations.

“Testing of whole pesticide formulations instead of just active ingredients alone would create a precautionary approach, ensuring that the guidance value for the pesticide is valid for the worst-case exposure scenario,” says Dr Mesnage.

Their findings have already had a considerable impact. The European Food Safety Authority is now reassessing the validity of pesticide risk assessment in the EU, and authors hope that this reassessment can extend to entire commercial formulations of pesticides and their other ingredients.

Backyard chickens need more regulation

Public Release: 2-Mar-2018

Safety of birds, people at stake, a UC Davis study suggests

University of California – Davis

IMAGE

IMAGE: These are baby Chicks. UC Davis Photo

Credit: UC Davis

Historically, keeping backyard chickens was a response to economic hardship — whether it was in the Depression or during wartime food rationing.

But a growing number of chickens today are roaming or are caged on small family farms and in backyards, as suburban and urban poultry gains more popularity among consumers. Many people prefer to raise their own food because they think it will be safer, fresher and more nutritious than that which was commercially raised. Yet, a new University of California, Davis, study suggests that local ordinances are not adequately addressing human and animal health when it comes to backyard poultry, and laws that do exist do not keep pace with those for commercial growers.

“Ironically, as people seek to take control over the way their food is grown, most ordinances fail to ensure basic health and welfare for birds and humans,” said Catherine Brinkley, assistant professor of community and regional development, in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. She is the primary author of the study.

The paper, “A Method for Guarding Animal Welfare and Public Health: Tracking the Rise of Backyard Poultry Ordinances,” was recently published in the Journal of Community Health.

What needs to happen, the author recommends, is that there be more laws that mandate vaccinations, manure management and general animal welfare in urban and suburban settings similar to policies and regulations imposed on commercial chicken ranches.

“Provisions governing animal slaughter and routine veterinary care are rare, presenting a concern for monitoring and intervening in public health crises,” the study says. “In addition, shelters anticipate higher poultry intakes, particularly as unwanted birds are turned loose to become strays.”

Researchers focused their study on 100 municipalities in Colorado, the only state to compile public data for animal shelter surrenders and other statistics. Compared with three other U.S. cities — Los Angeles, Miami and New York — Denver had the highest percentage of respondents in favor of allowing backyard poultry, 62.5 percent, and the lowest percentage of respondents who believed urban poultry would lead to more human disease, at 7.4 percent. Almost 42,000 households across the four cities were surveyed.

Almost all the laws governing poultry-keeping in Colorado were passed since 2000.

“More poultry ordinances have been passed or modified in Colorado in the last five years than in the previous hundred,” Brinkley said.

The most common guidelines for poultry ordinances, the researchers found, pertain to housing design, placement and the sex of birds — some municipalities ban roosters altogether, some do not, and still others permit one rooster per 12 hens, for example. But regulations pertaining to cleanliness, ventilation, and food and water requirements are often lacking. Ordinances governing the slaughter of backyard chickens occur in only half of municipalities in Colorado, and many are vague, researchers found.

Regulations pertaining to the chickens’ health and welfare were rare in the Colorado study, with only 2 percent of municipalities including poultry under animal cruelty and abuse regulations.

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The paper is available here: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10900-017-0462-0

Forage-based diets on dairy farms produce nutritionally enhanced milk

Public Release: 28-Feb-2018

 

Markedly higher levels of health-promoting fatty acids reported

University of Minnesota

MORRIS, MINNESOTA – Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are essential human nutrients, yet consuming too much omega-6 and too little omega-3 can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes. Today, Americans consume 10 to 15 grams of omega-6 for every gram of omega-3.

Previous studies have shown that consuming organic beef or organic dairy products lowers dietary intakes of omega-6, while increasing intakes of omega-3 and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), another valuable, heart-healthy fatty acid.

In a collaborative research project including the University of Minnesota, Johns Hopkins University, Newcastle University in England, Southern Cross University in Linsmore, NSW Australia, and the Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, researchers have found that cows fed a 100% organic grass and legume-based diet produce milk with elevated levels of omega-3 and CLA, and thus provides a markedly healthier balance of fatty acids. The improved fatty acid profile in grass-fed organic milk and dairy products (hereafter, “grassmilk”) brings the omega-6/omega-3 ratio to a near 1 to 1, compared to 5.7 to 1 in conventional whole milk.

Co-author Dr. Bradley Heins, Associate Professor of Dairy Science at the University of Minnesota’s West Central Research and Outreach Center points out that “With growing consumer demand for organic dairy products, producers may be able to expand their profitability and market share by converting to grass-based pasture and forage-feeding systems.”

Findings from the study “Enhancing the Fatty Acid Profile of Milk through Forage-Based Rations, with Nutrition Modeling of Dietary Outcomes,” published in Food Science and Nutrition, compared the fatty acid profile of milk from cows managed under three systems in the United States:

    1. “Grassmilk” cows receive an essentially 100% organic grass and legume forage-based diet, via pasture and stored feeds like hay and silage.

    2. “Organic” cows receive, on average, about 80% of their daily Dry Matter Intake (DMI) from forage-based feeds and 20% from grain and concentrates.

    3. “Conventional” cows are fed rations in which forage-based feeds account for an estimated 53% of daily DMI, with the other 47% coming from grains and concentrates. Conventional management accounts for over 90% of the milk cows on U.S. farms.

Grassmilk provides by far the highest level of omega-3s–0.05 grams per 100 grams of milk (g/100 g), compared to 0.02 g/100 g in conventional milk – a 147% increase in omega-3s. Grassmilk also contains 52% less omega-6 than conventional milk, and 36% less omega-6 than organic milk. In addition, the research team found that grassmilk has the highest average level of CLA–0.043 g/100 g of milk, compared to 0.019 g/ 100 g in conventional milk and 0.023 g/100 g in organic.

Implications for Public Health

Daily consumption of grassmilk dairy products could potentially improve U.S. health trends. In addition to the well-established metabolic and cardiovascular benefits of omega-3 fatty acids and CLA, there are additional benefits for pregnant and lactating women, infants, and children. Various forms of omega-3 fatty acids play critical roles in the development of eyes, the brain, and the nervous system. Adequate omega-3 intakes can also slow the loss of cognitive function among the elderly.

In describing the public health implications of the study’s main findings, co-author Charles Benbrook, a Visiting Scholar at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, points out that “The near-perfect balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in grassmilk dairy products will help consumers looking for simple, lifestyle options to reduce the risk of cardiovascular and other metabolic diseases.”

Source of Samples and Funding

The team analyzed over 1,160 samples of whole grassmilk taken over three years from on-farm bulk tanks prior to any processing. All samples came from farmer members of CROPP Cooperative and were tested by an independent laboratory.

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For more information on the research team, study methods, findings, nutrition modeling results, study costs and funding, and to follow along with grass-fed dairy research by Dr. Heins, visit https://z.umn.edu/whygrassmatters

Viruses sprayed on food to help prevent food poisoning

Public Release: 20-Feb-2018

Bacteria-eaters to prevent food poisoning?

Phages eliminate Yersinia from food

University of Helsinki

 

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IMAGE: “Our study can serve as a model for the prevention of other, more serious foodborne infections through phage treatment, ” says Professor Mikael Skurnik.

Credit: Helena Hiltunen, University of Helsinki

Bacteria-killing viruses could be employed not just in health care, but also in the food industry, a study conducted at the University of Helsinki indicates.

Research focused on the utilisation of viruses that infect and kill bacteria, known as bacteriophages or phages, in preventing infectious diseases has gained new traction after bacterial resistance to antibiotics has become a global problem. Each individual bacteriophage only infects a handful of bacterial species or strains, which makes them veritable weapons of precision in the prevention of bacterial diseases.

Professor Mikael Skurnik from the University of Helsinki has studied bacteriophages and phage therapy for a long time. Now, in cooperation with researchers at the Seoul National University in South Korea, he has been investigating the possibility of utilising phages also in eradicating foodborne pathogens and preventing food poisoning.

The researchers focused on the Yersinia enterocolitica bacterium, by far the most common cause for yersiniosis. The disease is usually transmitted through raw or undercooked pork. Another source of infection, although a much rarer one, is milk. Humans can also be infected by kitchenware used in handling contaminated food.

Yersiniosis symptoms include fever, severe abdominal pain and diarrhoea, which may persist for up to three weeks. In some cases, yersiniosis may cause arthritis as a secondary disease, persisting potentially several weeks. Yersiniosis occurs all over the world.

PHAGE TREATMENT EFFECTIVE IN BOTH FOOD AND KITCHENWARE

Researchers identified four bacteriophages that infect the Y. enterocolitica bacterium. The most effective of this quartet proved to be the fHe-Yen9-01 phage. It was selected for the next stage of the study where its efficacy in decontaminating food and kitchenware contaminated by bacteria was investigated.

“We focused on those foodstuffs that most often transmit infections, as well as those kitchen utensils most often used to handle these foodstuffs,” explains Skurnik.

Everyday products available in grocery shops, such as raw and grilled pork, as well as milk, were inoculated with Y. enterocolitica. The contaminated food was then subjected to phage treatment, after which the number of both bacteria and phages was monitored for three days.

“Phage treatment was effective in inhibiting bacterial growth in food, while the number of phages in the food grew, indicating that phages infect bacteria and grow in them also when refrigerated,” says Skurnik.

Next, the researchers inoculated kitchen utensils, such as wooden and plastic cutting boards, knives and surgical gloves, with the bacteria and phages, after which the number of bacteria and phages in the utensils was monitored for two hours. In this case as well, the phages effectively inhibited bacterial growth.

PHAGE TREATMENT TO BECOME ROUTINE IN FOOD PRODUCTION?

To the best of Skurnik’s knowledge, corresponding studies on the application of phages in food treatment have not been conducted anywhere prior to this. Treating food with phages is not, however, an entirely novel idea: in the United States, a phage product already on the market is sprayed on raw food products to prevent Listeria bacteria growth.

“In Finland, there is no urgent need to prevent Yersinia infections, but our study can serve as a model for the prevention of other, more serious foodborne infections through phage treatment,” says Skurnik.

In the future, decontamination with phages may well be part of the routine in processing food.

“One option is a phage mixture effective against several bacteria, such as the Salmonella and Campylobacter species, as well as the most common food poisoning bacteria in the gut. This mixture could also be administered in a preventive manner to farm animals, for example mixed in their drinking water,” muses Skurnik.

Exposure to chemical found in plastics ‘hard to avoid’ in everyday life

Public Release: 5-Feb-2018

 

University of Exeter

 

86 per cent of teenagers have traces of Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical compound used to make plastics, in their body, an Engaged Research public engagement project in collaboration with the University of Exeter has found.

Measurable levels of BPA, an endocrine-disrupting chemical, were found in the urine of the vast majority of the 94 17-19 year olds tested, according to research at the University of Exeter led by Professor Lorna Harries, Associate Professor in Molecular Genetics, and Professor Tamara Galloway, Professor of Ecotoxicology.

They called for better labelling of packaging to enable consumers to choose BPA-free products.

The citizen-science project was carried out in a real-world setting to provide young people with first-hand experience of all aspects of scientific research.

Students designed, took part in and published the research study into whether changes in their lifestyle and diet could have an impact on BPA in their bodies.

They found that chemical is so ubiquitous that trying to reduce exposure by avoiding food packaging and food likely to contain BPA has no measurable impact on exposure, according to research published in the BMJ Open journal.

The research, An engaged research study to assess the effect of a ‘real-world’ dietary intervention on urinary bisphenol A (BPA) levels in teenagers is the largest self-administered intervention study of exposure to BPA in unrelated individuals. Teenagers are thought to be one of the population demographics with the highest levels of exposure.

BPA passes relatively swiftly out of the body with a short half-life of around 6 hours, but measurable BPA was detected in 86% of the participating students, with an average level of 1.9ng/ml. This is similar to population exposure levels in other countries around the world, and reflects the exposure to BPA in the environment.

The study concluded:

“We found no evidence in this self-administered intervention study that it was possible to moderate BPA exposure by diet in a real-world setting. Our study participants indicated that they would be unlikely to sustain such as diet long term, due to the difficulty in identifying BPA free foods.”

BPA is an industrial chemical which has been used since the 1960s to make certain types of plastic. The chemical can be found in plastic containers and water bottles, till receipts, on the inside of cans and bottle tops and in plastic packaging and tubing. DVDs, CDs and sunglasses can also contain BPA though this is not a major route for exposure through skin.

BPA, a chemical with similarities to oestrogen, can get into the body through our diet. Highly-processed foods, or foods packaged in some plastics, can contain high levels of BPA. It is capable of causing changes to the expression of oestrogen-responsive genes, and the regulation of hormones, previous research by the Exeter team has found.[i]

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that may interfere with the body’s endocrine system. A wide range of substances, both natural and man-made, are thought to cause endocrine disruption. The EU Member State Committee (MSC) has said that Bisphenol A is an endocrine disruptor.[ii]

Leaching of BPA from products can increase with higher temperatures and with time and use, for example through repeated use of plastic water bottles if they contain BPA.

The Exeter academics said consistent labelling of packaging would enable consumers to identify products containing BPA.

Professor Galloway said: “We found that a diet designed to reduce exposure to BPA, including avoiding fruit and vegetables packaged in plastic containers, tinned food, and meals designed to be reheated in a microwave in packaging containing BPA, had little impact on BPA levels in the body”.

“Our students who followed the BPA-free diet reported that it would be difficult to follow it long term, because labelling of BPA products was inconsistent. They found it difficult to source and identify BPA-free foods.”

Professor Harries, Associate Professor of Molecular Genetics at the University of Exeter, said: “Our study shows that currently we do not have much of a choice about being exposed to BPA. We believe that much better labelling of products containing BPA is needed so people can make an informed choice”.

The teenagers’ urine was tested before they took part in the trial and afterwards to see if the diet made a measurable difference to levels of BPA in the urine.

Overall, teenagers who spent a week following guidelines designed to reduce BPA exposure in their diet did not see a drop in exposure. However, some of those with the highest levels of BPA in their urine did show some reduction.

The students from schools in Devon followed strict guidelines that they had designed as part of the research team for a week which included avoiding plastic packaging which contains BPA, switching to stainless steel and glass food and drink storage containers, and avoiding tinned food. They were also asked to switch to ceramic or glass food containers before microwaving.

Professor Galloway said:

“Exposure to the endocrine-disrupting chemical Bisphenol A is ubiquitous. There is growing evidence that exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals may be associated with adverse health outcomes. Measurable levels of BPA were present in the vast majority of our participants. They were unable to achieve a reduction in their urinary BPA levels over the 7-day trial period despite good compliance to supplied guidelines.”

Students who followed the BPA-free diet reported that it would be difficult to follow it long term, because labelling of BPA products was inconsistent and the difficulty of sourcing and identifying BPA-free foods.

Professor Harries, Associate Professor in Molecular Genetics at the University of Exeter, added: “BPA is a pervasive endocrine-disrupting chemical widely present in our food chain and our environment. Most people are exposed to BPA on a daily basis. In this study, our student researchers have discovered that at the present time, given current labelling laws, it is difficult to avoid exposure by altering our diet. In an ideal world, we would have a choice over what we put into our bodies. At the present time, since it is difficult to identify which foods and packaging contain BPA, it is not possible to make that choice.

“This study shows that it is possible to involve school students in real research. We wanted to give the students an authentic experience of what being a researcher is really like.”

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This public engagement project was funded by a Wellcome public engagement award. Professor Lorna Harries and Professor Tamara Galloway are available for interview.

Contact: Marie Woolf, Head of Press, University of Exeter. M.woolf@exeter.ac.uk; Direct line: 01392722616;Mobile: 07824545608

[1] *https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=24231368

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=21831745

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=20797929

[1] ECHA/PR/17/12

The Member State Committee (MSC) supported the French proposal to additionally identify Bisphenol A as a substance of very high concern because of its endocrine disrupting properties which cause probable serious effects to human health.

Helsinki, 16 June 2017 – The Member State Committee unanimously agreed on the identification as substances of very high concern (SVHCs) of: 4,4′-isopropylidenediphenol (bisphenol A, BPA) (EC 201-245-8, CAS 80-05-7), proposed by France, due to its endocrine disrupting properties for human health.

Want to make money with stocks? Never ever listen to analysts

Public Release: 9-Jan-2018

Research by Nicola Gennaioli and colleagues shows that investing in the stocks least favored by analysts yields five times more than buying the most recommended. Here’s why

Bocconi University

Investors probably expect that following the suggestions of stock analysts would make them better off than doing the exact opposite. Nevertheless, recent research by Nicola Gennaioli and colleagues shows that the best way to gain excess-returns would be to invest in the shares least favored by analysts. They compute that, during the last thirty-five years, investing in the 10% of U.S. stocks analysts were most optimistic about would have yielded on average 3% a year. By contrast, investing in the 10% of stocks analysts were most pessimistic about would have yielded a staggering 15% a year.

Gennaioli and colleagues shed light on this puzzle with the help of cognitive sciences and, in particular, using Kahneman and Tversky’s concept of representativeness. Decision makers, according to this view, overweight the representative features of a group or a phenomenon. These are defined as the features that occur more frequently in that group than in a baseline reference group.

After observing strong earnings growth – the explanation goes – analysts think that the firm may be the next Google. “Googles” are in fact more frequent among firms experiencing strong growth, which makes them representative. The problem is that “Googles” are very rare in absolute terms. As a result, expectations become too optimistic, and future performance disappoints. A model of stock prices in which investor beliefs follow this logic can account both qualitatively and quantitatively for the beliefs of analysts and the dynamics of stock returns.

In related work, the authors show that the same model can account for booms and bust in the volume of credit and interest rate spreads.

These works are part a research project financed by the European Research Council aimed at taking robust insights from cognitive sciences and at incorporating them into economic models. Kahneman and Tversky’s concept of representativeness lies at the heart of this effort.

“In a classical example, we tend to think of Irishmen as redheads because red hair is much more frequent among Irishmen than among the rest of the world”, Prof. Gennaioli says. “Nevertheless, only 10% of Irishmen are redheads. In our work, we develop models of belief formation that embody this logic and study the implication of this important psychological force in different domains”.

Representativeness helps describe expectations and behavior in different domains, not only in financial markets. One such domain is the formation of stereotypes about social groups. In a recent experimental paper, Gennaioli and colleagues show that representativeness can explain self-confidence, and in particular the unwillingness of women to compete in traditionally male subjects, such as mathematics. A slight prevalence of exceptional male math ability in the data is enough to make math ability un-representative for women, driving their exaggerated under-confidence in this particular subject.

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Pedro Bordalo, Nicola Gennaioli, Rafael La Porta, Andrei Shleifer, Diagnostic Expectations and Stock Returns, working paper.

Pedro Bordalo, Nicola Gennaioli, Andrei Shleifer, Diagnostic Expectations and Credit Cycles, forthcoming in The Journal of Finance.

Pedro Bordalo, Katherine Coffman, Nicola Gennaioli, Andrei Shleifer, Stereotypes, in The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Volume 131, Issue 4.

Pedro Bordalo, Katherine Coffman, Nicola Gennaioli, Andrei Shleifer, Beliefs about Gender, NBER Working Paper No. w22972.

Jeans made with child labor? People choose willful ignorance

Public Release: 9-Jan-2018

 

Consumers ‘forget’ when products have ethical issues

Ohio State University

 

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Many consumers have found a way to cope with the knowledge that products they like have been made unethically: They simply forget they ever knew it.

In a series of studies, researchers found that consumers conveniently “forgot” that brands of desks were made with wood from rainforests or that jeans may have been made with child labor.

In fact, consumers not only forget the uncomfortable truth, but sometimes misremember the facts and believe that the offending product was made ethically.

“It’s not necessarily a conscious decision by consumers to forget what they don’t want to know,” said Rebecca Reczek, co-author of the study and associate professor of marketing at The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business.

“It is a learned coping mechanism to tune out uncomfortable information because it makes their lives easier.”

The study appears online in the Journal of Consumer Research and will be published in a future print edition.

In one study, 236 college students were asked to read and memorize descriptions of six made-up brands of desks. The descriptions discussed quality, price and an ethical dimension – the source of the wood. Participants read that the wood either came from sustainable tree farms or endangered rainforests.

When asked immediately after memorization, participants accurately recalled whether the wood came from rainforests or tree farms in 94 percent of the cases.

But those memories faded quickly. After the participants completed 15 to 20 minutes of tasks meant to distract them, they were then given a sheet of paper with all six desk brand names and were asked to write down as much as they could remember about each desk.

Participants were right 60 percent of the time about desks made from tree farms, but right only 45 percent of the time about desks made of rainforest wood.

“It is not that the participants didn’t pay attention to where the wood came from. We know that they successfully memorized that information,” said study co-author Daniel Zane, a doctoral student in marketing at Ohio State.

“But they forget it in this systematic pattern. They remembered the quality and price attributes of the desks. It is only the ethical attributes that cause people to be willfully ignorant.”

A second study involved a national sample of 402 people who participated online. Here, participants were asked to put together an outfit that included a pair of jeans. About half of the participants saw a brand of jeans that was described as being made with child labor while the other half saw a brand of jeans made ethically, with no child labor.

Results were similar to the first study: People who saw the jeans made with child labor were much less likely to remember this information than people who saw a brand of jeans made with adult labor.

Why is forgetting ethical information so popular with consumers? Well, another study suggested that it makes people feel a little better about themselves.

In this study, the researchers had participants consider a hypothetical person named Chris who bought a pair of jeans made with child labor. In some cases, participants were told Chris had earlier learned that the jeans were made with child labor, but forgot when making the purchase. In other cases, participants were told Chris remembered the information, but ignored it when buying the jeans.

“What we found is that people judged the person who forgot the ethical information as more moral than the person who ignored the information,” Reczek said.

“So, for most people, forgetting is seen as the more acceptable coping strategy.”

If you really want to be an ethical consumer, there are steps you can take, Zane said.

“You need to realize that this memory bias exists and eliminate memory from your buying process,” he said.

“Don’t put something in your online shopping cart that you know was made unethically and say you’ll think about it. By the time you come back, there is a good chance you will have forgotten what troubled you in the first place.”

There’s a lesson for ethical companies too, Reczek said.

“Don’t make your customers rely on memory. Make sure you have reminders at the point of purchase that you’re an ethical brand,” she said.

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Other co-authors were Julie Irwin, professor of business at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin; and Kristine Ehrich, lecturer of marketing at San Diego State University.

Contact: Rebecca Reczek, Reczek.3@osu.edu Daniel Zane, Zane.7@osu.edu

Written by Jeff Grabmeier, 614-292-8457; Grabmeier.1@osu.edu

Dietary sugar linked to increasing bacterial epidemics

Public Release: 3-Jan-2018

 

Baylor College of Medicine

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IMAGE: This photo shows Dr. James Collins (left) and Dr. Robert Britton (right).

Credit: Baylor College of Medicine

The increasing frequency and severity of healthcare-associated outbreaks caused by bacterium Clostridium difficile have been linked to the widely used food additive trehalose. A team of researchers discovered that in laboratory tests and animal models, trehalose enhances the virulence of epidemic C. difficile lineages that predominate in patient infections. The study appears in the journal Nature.

C. difficile infections have always been a problem in hospitals, but during the last 15 years they have become the most common cause of hospital-acquired infections in developed countries,” said corresponding author Dr. Robert Britton, professor of molecular virology and microbiology and member of the Alkek Center for Metagenomics and Microbiome Research and the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at Baylor College of Medicine.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, C. difficile is a major cause of infectious disease-related death in the United States. In 2015, the CDC reported that C. difficile caused almost a half-million infections in patients in a year and 29,000 estimated deaths. The bacteria cause life-threatening inflammation of the colon and diarrhea. Patients 65 years and older are at most risk, and most infections occur in people who have received medical care and antibiotics.

“Our group and others have found that C. difficile lineages RT027 and RT078 have become dominant more recently around the globe,” said first author Dr. James Collins, a postdoctoral associate in the Britton lab. “These lineages have been present in people for years without causing major outbreaks; in the 1980s they were not epidemic or hypervirulent but after the year 2000 they began to predominate and cause major outbreaks. We wanted to know what had helped these lineages become a major health risk.”

Diet and bacterial virulence

Resistance to fluoroquinolone antibiotics is likely one of the factors that is helping lineage RT027 cause epidemics.

“However, fluoroquinolone resistance is also a characteristic of other C. difficile lineages that are not epidemic,” Collins said. “We searched for other factors that would help RT027 and RT078 increase their virulence.”

The researchers investigated what sources of food RT027 and RT078 preferred. They discovered that these lineages can grow on levels of sugar trehalose that are about 1,000 times lower than those needed by other lineages of these bacteria, giving RT027 and RT078 a major advantage. Each lineage is highly efficient at using trehalose and evolved independent mechanisms to utilize this sugar. To connect the ability to metabolize low levels of trehalose with increased disease severity, the researchers worked with a mouse model of C. difficile infection.

“Mice received a strain of the RT027 lineage of C. difficile and a diet with or without low trehalose levels,” Collins said. “What the mice ate made a difference to the virulence of the infection; mortality was higher in the group consuming trehalose.”

Further experiments showed that increased disease severity in the presence of trehalose could not be explained by the mice having higher numbers of bacteria, instead what made the disease more severe was that RT027 produced higher levels of toxins.

These and other experiments provide evidence that dietary trehalose has contributed to the predominance of epidemic C. difficile lineages and to their virulence. Because the genetic factors that allow these bacteria to metabolize trehalose and increase the production of toxins were present well before the outbreaks started, the researchers investigated what could have triggered the epidemics.

“In 2000, trehalose was approved as a food additive in the United States for a number of foods from sushi and vegetables to ice cream, and about three years later the reports of outbreaks with these lineages started to increase,” Britton said. “Other factors may also contribute, but we think that trehalose is a key trigger.”

“An important contribution of this study is the realization that what we once considered a perfectly safe sugar for human consumption, can have unexpected consequences,” Collins said. “Our study suggests that the effect of trehalose in the diet of patients in hospitals with RT027 and RT078 outbreaks should be further investigated.”

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Other contributors to this work include H. Danhof and J.M. Auchtung at Baylor College of Medicine; C. Robinson at the University of Oregon; C.W. Knetsch and H.C. van Leeuwen at Leiden University Medical Center in The Netherlands and T.D. Lawley at Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in the United Kingdom.

Financial support was provided by the National Institutes of Health grants U01AI124290-01 and 5U19AI09087202.

Britain argues against importing U.S. dirty turkey

Public Release: 17-Dec-2017

Risk of ‘dirty’ turkey after Brexit if UK strikes a US trade deal

City University London

Consumers could be eating “dirty” chlorinated turkey at Christmas if the UK agrees a post-Brexit trade deal with the USA, according to a new briefing paper by leading food policy experts.

The team – from the University of Sussex, Cardiff University and City, University of London – found US poultry, washed in up to four chemical disinfectants, does not meet EU safety standards. The academics also found the chemicals are used in the USA to wash fruit, vegetables and fish.

They warn that British shoppers would be safer if the UK kept European Union standards and say future controls should be “stricter, not weaker”.

Professors Erik Millstone (University of Sussex), Tim Lang (City, University of London) and Terry Marsden (Cardiff University) compared current UK and EU standards with those in the USA, and concluded that the use of chemical disinfectants by the US food industry posed risks to consumers and workers in the industry.

The question of whether the UK would import chlorine-washed meat after Brexit was raised when US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross warned that a post-Brexit UK-US trade deal would require that the UK abandoned EU standards.

Professor Erik Millstone said: “The UK should continue to insist on improving hygiene standards in poultry farms, slaughter houses and meat-cutting plants and not allow standards to decline, nor try relying on chemical disinfectants to reduce the harm that filthy meat can cause. UK consumers would be safer to keep EU standards, and not to accept US disinfectant-washed-but-still-dirty poultry.”

The new paper – published by the Food Research Collaboration, an inter-university network based at City’s Centre for Food Policy – concluded that:

  • Far too few studies have been conducted into disinfectant-washed poultry
  • The available data set is full of holes
  • Some studies have produced data indicating significant risks.

US chemicals

The turkeys and chickens on sale in the UK this Christmas cannot lawfully be washed with four chemicals that the US poultry trade calls ‘pathogen reduction treatments’ (PRTs).

The briefing paper identifies the set of scientific and policy documents, endorsed by the US Food and Drug Administration, which explain why the country’s poultry industry uses these chemicals, and why they are not permitted in the UK or EU.

According to the authors, the animal carcasses are washed with disinfectants because when they arrive at US abattoirs and meat cutting plants they are far more contaminated with infectious filth, including excrement, than in the UK’s current food supply chain.

The UK and EU approach insists that hygiene standards in the supply chain are sufficiently high that they do not need to be chemically disinfected.

Statistics cited in the briefing paper show that 97 per cent of chicken breast meat in the USA contains pathogens such as Salmonella and E. coli.

The US-approved PRT chemicals are used to wash chickens, turkeys, other types of meat as well as fish, fruit and vegetables. They are: peroxyacetic acid, chlorine dioxide, acidified sodium chlorite, and trisodium phosphate (E 339 iii). The authors argue that if the UK allows PRT washed meat, they might then also be allowed for fish, fruit and vegetables.

The briefing paper also found: there is evidence PRTs may contribute to the formation of toxic compounds when they interact with poultry flesh; use of PRTs may worsen the chances that disinfectant-resistant bacteria will emerge.

Professor Tim Lang said: “We cannot support any weakening of UK food hygiene standards. This is not what UK consumers have voted for or been consulted on. We were shocked when we found that PRTs are allowed to wash fish, fruit and vegetables, as well as poultry. This might put off UK consumers.”

Recommendations

The academics cite a World Health Organisation and UN Food and Agriculture Organisation report saying disinfectants “must not be used to mask poor hygienic practices”.

Professor Terry Marsden said: “This is one of a series of food safety concerns of which consumers need to be aware as the Brexit process continues. The UK needs to improve its intensive food production and processing standards and not put both animals and consumers at risk.”

The experts make a series of recommendations, including that: the UK commits to at least maintaining safety and quality standards; public health, environmental, animal welfare and consumer organisations should combine to prevent the sale of poultry, fish, fruit and vegetables washed with chemical disinfectants in the UK.

Temple research: Canola oil linked to worsened memory & learning ability in Alzheimer’s

Public Release: 7-Dec-2017

 

Temple University Health System

 

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Caption

Domenico Praticò, MD, Professor in the Departments of Pharmacology and Microbiology and Director of the Alzheimer’s Center at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, as well as senior investigator on the study.

Credit: Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University

(Philadelphia, PA) – Canola oil is one of the most widely consumed vegetable oils in the world, yet surprisingly little is known about its effects on health. Now, a new study published online December 7 in the journal Scientific Reports by researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University (LKSOM) associates the consumption of canola oil in the diet with worsened memory, worsened learning ability and weight gain in mice which model Alzheimer’s disease. The study is the first to suggest that canola oil is more harmful than healthful for the brain.

“Canola oil is appealing because it is less expensive than other vegetable oils, and it is advertised as being healthy,” explained Domenico Praticò, MD, Professor in the Departments of Pharmacology and Microbiology and Director of the Alzheimer’s Center at LKSOM, as well as senior investigator on the study. “Very few studies, however, have examined that claim, especially in terms of the brain.”

Curious about how canola oil affects brain function, Dr. Praticò and Elisabetta Lauretti, a graduate student in Dr. Pratico’s laboratory at LKSOM and co-author on the new study, focused their work on memory impairment and the formation of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in an Alzheimer’s disease mouse model. Amyloid plaques and phosphorylated tau, which is responsible for the formation of tau neurofibrillary tangles, contribute to neuronal dysfunction and degeneration and memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease. The animal model was designed to recapitulate Alzheimer’s in humans, progressing from an asymptomatic phase in early life to full-blown disease in aged animals.

Dr. Praticò and Lauretti had previously used the same mouse model in an investigation of olive oil, the results of which were published earlier in 2017. In that study, they found that Alzheimer mice fed a diet enriched with extra-virgin olive oil had reduced levels of amyloid plaques and phosphorylated tau and experienced memory improvement. For their latest work, they wanted to determine whether canola oil is similarly beneficial for the brain.

The researchers started by dividing the mice into two groups at six months of age, before the animals developed signs of Alzheimer’s disease. One group was fed a normal diet, while the other was fed a diet supplemented with the equivalent of about two tablespoons of canola oil daily.

The researchers then assessed the animals at 12 months. One of the first differences observed was in body weight – animals on the canola oil-enriched diet weighed significantly more than mice on the regular diet. Maze tests to assess working memory, short-term memory, and learning ability uncovered additional differences. Most significantly, mice that had consumed canola oil over a period of six months suffered impairments in working memory.

Examination of brain tissue from the two groups of mice revealed that canola oil-treated animals had greatly reduced levels of amyloid beta 1-40. Amyloid beta 1-40 is the more soluble form of the amyloid beta proteins. It generally is considered to serve a beneficial role in the brain and acts as a buffer for the more harmful insoluble form, amyloid beta 1-42.

As a result of decreased amyloid beta 1-40, animals on the canola oil diet further showed increased formation of amyloid plaques in the brain, with neurons engulfed in amyloid beta 1-42. The damage was accompanied by a significant decrease in the number of contacts between neurons, indicative of extensive synapse injury. Synapses, the areas where neurons come into contact with one another, play a central role in memory formation and retrieval.

“Amyloid beta 1-40 neutralizes the actions of amyloid 1-42, which means that a decrease in 1-40, like the one observed in our study, leaves 1-42 unchecked,” Dr. Praticò explained. “In our model, this change in ratio resulted in considerable neuronal damage, decreased neural contacts, and memory impairment.”

The findings suggest that long-term consumption of canola oil is not beneficial to brain health. “Even though canola oil is a vegetable oil, we need to be careful before we say that it is healthy,” Dr. Praticò said. “Based on the evidence from this study, canola oil should not be thought of as being equivalent to oils with proven health benefits.”

The next step is to carry out a study of shorter duration to determine the minimum extent of exposure necessary to produce observable changes in the ratio of amyloid beta 1-42 to 1-40 in the brain and alter synapse connections. A longer study may be warranted in order to determine whether canola oil also eventually impacts tau phosphorylation, since no effects on tau were observed over the six-month exposure period.

“We also want to know whether the negative effects of canola oil are specific for Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr. Praticò added. “There is a chance that the consumption of canola oil could also affect the onset and course of other neurodegenerative diseases or other forms of dementia.”

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The research was funded in part by a grant from the Wanda Simone Endowment for Neuroscience.

About Temple Health

Temple University Health System (TUHS) is a $1.8 billion academic health system dedicated to providing access to quality patient care and supporting excellence in medical education and research. The Health System consists of Temple University Hospital (TUH), ranked among the “Best Hospitals” in the region by U.S. News & World Report; TUH-Episcopal Campus; TUH-Northeastern Campus; Fox Chase Cancer Center, an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center; Jeanes Hospital, a community-based hospital offering medical, surgical and emergency services; Temple Transport Team, a ground and air-ambulance company; and Temple Physicians, Inc., a network of community-based specialty and primary-care physician practices. TUHS is affiliated with the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, and Temple University Physicians, which is Temple Health’s physician practice plan comprised of more than 500 full-time and part-time academic physicians in 20 clinical departments.

The Lewis Katz School of Medicine (LKSOM), established in 1901, is one of the nation’s leading medical schools. Each year, the School of Medicine educates approximately 840 medical students and 140 graduate students. Based on its level of funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Katz School of Medicine is the second-highest ranked medical school in Philadelphia and the third-highest in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. According to U.S. News & World Report, LKSOM is among the top 10 most applied-to medical schools in the nation.

Temple Health refers to the health, education and research activities carried out by the affiliates of Temple University Health System (TUHS) and by the Katz School of Medicine. TUHS neither provides nor controls the provision of health care. All health care is provided by its member organizations or independent health care providers affiliated with TUHS member organizations. Each TUHS member organization is owned and operated pursuant to its governing documents.

Sugar industry withheld evidence of sucrose’s health effects nearly 50 years ago

Public Release: 21-Nov-2017

 

PLOS

A U.S. sugar industry trade group appears to have pulled the plug on a study that was producing animal evidence linking sucrose to disease nearly 50 years ago, researchers argue in a paper publishing on November 21 in the open access journal PLOS Biology.

Researchers Cristin Kearns, Dorie Apollonio and Stanton Glantz from the University of California at San Francisco reviewed internal sugar industry documents and discovered that the Sugar Research Foundation (SRF) funded animal research to evaluate sucrose’s effects on cardiovascular health. When the evidence seemed to indicate that sucrose might be associated with heart disease and bladder cancer, they found, the foundation terminated the project without publishing the results.

In a previous analysis of the documents, Kearns and Glantz found that SRF had secretly funded a 1967 review article that downplayed evidence linking sucrose consumption to coronary heart disease. That SRF-funded review noted that gut microbes may explain why rats fed sugar had higher cholesterol levels than those fed starch, but dismissed the relevance of animal studies to understanding human disease.

In the new paper in PLOS Biology, the team reports that the following year, SRF (which had changed its name in 1968 to the International Sugar Research Foundation, or ISRF) launched a rat study called Project 259 ‘to measure the nutritional effects of the [bacterial] organisms in the intestinal tract’ when sucrose was consumed, compared to starch.

The ISRF-funded research on rats by W.R.F. Pover of the University of Birmingham suggested that gut bacteria help mediate sugar’s adverse cardiovascular effects. Pover also reported findings that might indicate an increased risk of bladder cancer. “This incidental finding of Project 259 demonstrated to ISRF that sucrose vs. starch consumption caused different metabolic effects,” Kearns and her colleagues argue, “and suggested that sucrose, by stimulating urinary beta-glucuronidase, may have a role in the pathogenesis of bladder cancer.”

The ISRF described the finding in a September 1969 internal document as “one of the first demonstrations of a biological difference between sucrose and starch fed rats.” But soon after ISRF learned about these results–and shortly before the research project was complete–the group terminated funding for the project, and no findings from the work were published.

In the 1960s, scientists disagreed over whether sugar could elevate triglycerides relative to starch, and Project 259 would have bolstered the case that it could, the authors argue. What’s more, terminating Project 259 echoed SRF’s earlier efforts to downplay sugar’s role in cardiovascular disease.

The results suggest that the current debate on the relative effects of sugar vs. starch may be rooted in more than 60 years of industry manipulation of science. Last year, the Sugar Association criticized a mouse study suggesting a link between sugar and increased tumor growth and metastasis, saying that “no credible link between ingested sugars and cancer has been established.”

The analysis by Kearns and her colleagues of the industry’s own documents, in contrast, suggests that the industry knew of animal research suggesting this link and halted funding to protect its commercial interests half a century ago.

“The kind of manipulation of research is similar what the tobacco industry does,” according to co-author Stanton Glantz. “This kind of behavior calls into question sugar industry-funded studies as a reliable source of information for public policy making.”

“Our study contributes to a wider body of literature documenting industry manipulation of science,” the researchers write in the PLOS Biology paper. “Based on ISRF’s interpretation of preliminary results, extending Project 259’s funding would have been unfavorable to the sugar industry’s commercial interests.” SRF cut off funding before that could happen.

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In your coverage please use this URL to provide access to the freely available article in PLOS Biology: http://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.2003460

Citation: Kearns CE, Apollonio D, Glantz SA (2017) Sugar industry sponsorship of germ-free rodent studies linking sucrose to hyperlipidemia and cancer: An historical analysis of internal documents. PLoS Biol 15(11): e2003460. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.2003460

Funding: The Laura and John Arnold Foundation http://www.arnoldfoundation.org/ (CEK,SAG). The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (grant number DE-007306). (CEK). The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Samuel Lawrence Foundation https://www.samuellawrencefoundation.org/. (Provided funding for document acquisition). The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. National Cancer Institute (grant number CA-140236). (DA). The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. UCSF Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies. (CEK). The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. UCSF School of Dentistry Department of Orofacial Sciences and Global Oral Health Program. (CEK). The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Gary Taubes, MS, co-founder of Nutrition Science Initiative http://nusi.org/. (Provided funding for CEK to travel to the Harvard Medical Library). The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. National Cancer Institute (grant number CA-087472). (SAG). The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Imported candy at top of contaminated food list in California

Public Release: 26-Oct-2017

 

More health alerts issued for lead in candy than for Salmonella, E. coli or Botulism

University of California – San Francisco

Following a state law mandating testing, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued more alerts for lead in candy than for the other top three sources of food-borne contamination combined, according to the first analysis of outcomes of the 2006 law by researchers at UC San Francisco and CDPH.

For many years, the state health department’s Food and Drug Branch has routinely prepared and disseminated health alerts to regional and county public health programs, practicing community clinicians, and the general public warning of potentially toxic food exposures. But until the 2006 law mandated a surveillance program, the CDPH did not test widely for lead in candy.

The new study shows that in the six years before the law went into effect–from 2001 to 2006–just 22 percent of the alerts about food contamination involved lead in candy. Once the program was implemented, however, 42 percent of the food contamination alerts issued by state health officials were for lead in candy–nearly all of it imported–which was more than the total for Salmonella, E. coli and botulism, according to an analysis of alerts issued between 2001 and 2014. The study was published Oct. 26, 2017 in Environmental Health Perspectives.

Lead is a toxic heavy metal that can cause developmental delays, neurological damage, hearing loss, and other serious health problems in young children and adults. The study found that active community monitoring can identify lead in food products such as candy, so they can be recalled before too many people have eaten them. Without such testing, health investigators must wait until after children have been poisoned to look for the sources, which is especially difficult when the source is as perishable as candy.

“With this policy change identifying lead sources is more upstream and community-based,” said Margaret Handley, PhD, MPH, a professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at UCSF and the first author of the study. “By testing candy and issuing alerts when foods are found to be contaminated, we can identify and remove sources of lead before children become poisoned.”

As many as 10,000 California children under the age of six are poisoned by lead each year, and 1,000 of them are exposed to very high levels of the toxic metal. Most efforts to reduce exposure focus on the lead found in gasoline and industrially contaminated soil, as well as lead-based paint, which children take in when they eat paint chips or breathe in dust.

But after several high-profile poisoning cases, the California legislature passed a law requiring the state health department’s Food and Drug Branch to increase surveillance of lead in candy and to issue health alerts when levels were high.

Over the 14-year study period, state public health officials issued 164 health alerts for food contamination. Of these, 60 were lead-related and 55 of those were for imported food, mostly candy from Mexico (34 percent), China (24 percent), and India (20 percent). Two alerts were issued for imported foods that were not candy: one for a toasted grasshopper snack called chapuline, the other for spices.

To get an in-depth look at how well the testing program was working, the study analyzed data for the years 2011-2012 and found that state officials had tested 1,346 candies. Of these, 65 different products were found to contain lead, and 40 of those exceeded the federal limits for children of 100 parts per billion. These candies came from a more diverse set of countries than the overall 2001 to 2014 sample. Just over a third (35 percent) came from India. The others came from Taiwan (12 percent), China (11 percent), the United States (11 percent), Mexico (9 percent), Pakistan (6 percent), Hong Kong (4 percent), the United Kingdom (3 percent), and one sample each from Germany, Indonesia, Thailand, Turkey, and Spain.

Since the candy testing program is not comprehensive the researchers said the true number of contaminated candies and other foods on the market could be even higher.

“As more lead sources are identified we must develop prevention approaches for all of them, and not just replace one prevention approach with another,” Handley said. “If there is anything we have learned from the lead poisoning disaster in Flint, Michigan, it is not to oversimplify or cut corners when it comes to identifying and removing sources of lead poisoning.”

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Other authors include Kalie Nelson, Eric Sanford MD, Cassidy Clarity, Sophia Emmons-Bell, Anuhandra Gorukanti, MD, all affiliated with UCSF; and Patrick Kennelly PhD, of CDPH.

About UCSF: UC San Francisco (UCSF) is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. It includes top-ranked graduate schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy; a graduate division with nationally renowned programs in basic, biomedical, translational and population sciences; and a preeminent biomedical research enterprise. It also includes UCSF Health, which comprises top-ranked hospitals, UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals in San Francisco and Oakland – and other partner and affiliated hospitals and healthcare providers throughout the Bay Area. Please visit http://www.ucsf.edu/news.

Perinatal BPA exposure induces chronic inflammation by modulating gut bacteria

Public Release: 10-Oct-2017

 

American Society for Microbiology

Washington, DC – October 10, 2017 – Emerging evidence from a research study in rabbits suggests that environmental toxicants may influence inflammation-promoted chronic disease susceptibility during early life. BPA exposure just before or after birth leads to reduced gut bacterial diversity, bacterial metabolites such as short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) and elevated gut permeability – three common early markers of inflammation-promoted chronic diseases.

The results, published this week in mSystems, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology, show that perinatal BPA exposure may cause gut bacterial dysbiosis and altered metabolite profiles that lead to chronic colon and liver inflammation. The study suggests that correcting bacterial dysbiosis induced by environmental toxins early in life may reduce the risk for chronic diseases later in life.

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The American Society for Microbiology is the largest single life science society, composed of over 50,000 scientists and health professionals. ASM’s mission is to promote and advance the microbial sciences.

ASM advances the microbial sciences through conferences, publications, certifications and educational opportunities. It enhances laboratory capacity around the globe through training and resources. It provides a network for scientists in academia, industry and clinical settings. Additionally, ASM promotes a deeper understanding of the microbial sciences to diverse audiences.

GM soybean oil causes less obesity and insulin resistance but is harmful to liver function

Public Release: 2-Oct-2017

 

UC Riverside mouse study compares Plenish to conventional soybean, coconut, and olive oils

University of California – Riverside

 

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IMAGE: This photo shows Poonamjot Deol (seated) and Frances Sladek.

Credit: I. Pittalwala, UC Riverside.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Researchers at the University of California, Riverside have tested a genetically-modified (GM) soybean oil used in restaurants and found that while it induces less obesity and insulin resistance than conventional soybean oil, its effects on diabetes and fatty liver are similar to those of conventional soybean oil.

Soybean oil is the major vegetable cooking oil used in the United States, and its popularity is on the increase worldwide. Rich in unsaturated fats, especially linoleic acid, soybean oil induces obesity, diabetes, insulin resistance, and fatty liver in mice.

UC Riverside researchers tested Plenish®, a genetically-modified (GM) soybean oil released by DuPont in 2014. Plenish is engineered to have low linoleic acid, resulting in an oil similar in composition to olive oil, the basis of the Mediterranean diet and considered to be healthful.

The study, published today in Nature Scientific Reports, is the first to compare the long-term metabolic effects of conventional soybean oil to those of Plenish.

The study also compares both conventional soybean oil and Plenish to coconut oil, which is rich in saturated fatty acids and causes the least amount of weight gain among all the high-fat diets tested.

“We found all three oils raised the cholesterol levels in the liver and blood, dispelling the popular myth that soybean oil reduces cholesterol levels,” said Frances Sladek, a professor of cell biology, who led the research project.

Next, the researchers compared Plenish to olive oil. Both oils have high oleic acid, a fatty acid believed to reduce blood pressure and help with weight loss.

“In our mouse experiments, olive oil produced essentially identical effects as Plenish – more obesity than coconut oil, although less than conventional soybean oil – and very fatty livers, which was surprising as olive oil is typically considered to be the healthiest of all the vegetable oils,” said Poonamjot Deol, an assistant project scientist working in Sladek’s lab and the co-first author of the research paper. “Plenish, which has a fatty acid composition similar to olive oil, induced hepatomegaly, or enlarged livers, and liver dysfunction, just like olive oil.”

Sladek explained that some of the negative metabolic effects of animal fat that researchers often see in rodents could actually be due to high levels of linoleic acid, given that most U.S. farm animals are fed soybean meal.

“This could be why our experiments are showing that a high-fat diet enriched in conventional soybean oil has nearly identical effects to a diet based on lard,” she said.

The researchers further speculate that the increased consumption of soybean oil in the U.S. since the 1970s could be a contributing factor to the obesity epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 35 percent of adults are obese. In some ethnic groups, however, such as Hispanics and African-Americans, between 42 percent and 48 percent of the population is obese. Obesity, officially designated by the American Medical Association in 2013 as a disease, is linked to diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

“Our findings do not necessarily relate to other soybean products like soy sauce, tofu, or soy milk – products that are largely from the water-soluble compartment of the soybean; oil, on the other hand, is from the fat-soluble compartment,” Sladek said. “More research into the amounts of linoleic acid in these products and others is needed.”

Linoleic acid is an essential fatty acid. All humans and animals must obtain it from their diet.

“But just because it is essential does not necessarily mean it is good to have more of it in your diet,” Deol said. “Our bodies need just 1-to-2 percent linoleic acid from our diet, but Americans, on average, have 8-to-10 percent linoleic acid in their diets.”

Deol and Sladek recommend avoiding conventional soybean oil as much as possible.

“This might be difficult as conventional soybean oil is used in most restaurant cooking and found in most processed foods,” Deol said. “One advantage of Plenish is that it generates fewer transfats than conventional soybean oil.”

“But with its effects on the liver, Plenish would still not be my first choice of an oil,” Sladek said. “Indeed, I used to use exclusively olive oil in my home, but now I substitute some of it for coconut oil. Of all the oils we have tested thus far, coconut oil produces the fewest negative metabolic effects, even though it consists nearly entirely of saturated fats. Coconut oil does increase cholesterol levels, but no more than conventional soybean oil or Plenish.”

The researchers have not examined the cardiovascular effects of coconut oil.

“As a result, we do not know if the elevated cholesterol coconut oil induces is detrimental,” Sladek said. “The take-home message is that it is best not to depend on just one oil source. Different dietary oils have far reaching and complex effects on metabolism that require additional investigation.”

The study builds on an earlier study by the researchers that compared soybean oil to a high fructose diet and found soybean oil causes more obesity and diabetes than coconut oil.

Next, the researchers, who found a positive correlation between oxylipins (oxidized fatty acids) in linoleic acid and obesity, plan to determine whether the oxylipins cause obesity, and, if so, by what mechanism. They will also study the effects of conventional and GM soybean oil on intestinal health.

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Sladek and Deol were joined in the study by UCR’s Jane R. Evans and Antonia Rizo; along with Johannes Fahrmann (co-first author), Jun Yang, Michelle Salemi, Kwanjeera Wanichthanarak, Oliver Fiehn, Brett Phinney, and Bruce D. Hammock at UC Davis; and Dmitri Grapov at Creative Data Solutions, Mo.

Sladek and Deol were supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America Career Development Award, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the United Soybean Board Soy Health Research Program, the West Coast Metabolomics Center at UC Davis, and UCR.

DuPont provided Plenish oil for the study. The company played no role in designing the experiments or preparing the manuscript, and had no knowledge of the results prior to publication.

The University of California, Riverside is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California’s diverse culture, UCR’s enrollment is now nearly 23,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

Mislabeled moisturizers create problems for skin disorder sufferers

Public Release: 6-Sep-2017

 

Eczema, psoriasis patients have trouble navigating products with misleading ingredients

Northwestern University

CHICAGO — A new Northwestern Medicine study found that moisturizers marked “fragrance free” or “hypoallergenic” were not, and products labeled as “dermatologist-recommended” often came with a higher price tag.

The inaccurate claims and higher prices make it difficult for those with skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis to find affordable, non-irritating and safe moisturizers.

The study examined the ingredients and performance of the top 100 best-selling, whole-body moisturizers at Amazon, Target and Wal-Mart to determine the best consumer products based on affordability and how well they moisturized without causing a skin allergy.

Dermatologists have a responsibility to base their endorsements of moisturizers on evidence, especially if it leads to a higher price, said first author Steve Xu. This research will help dermatologists better understand the science behind moisturizers so they can better guide patients toward what they like, what is safe and what is affordable.

The study will be published Sept. 6 in JAMA Dermatology.

Nearly half (45 percent) of the products in the study that claimed to be “fragrance free” actually had a fragrance cross reactor or botanical ingredient. The study found that the vast majority (83 percent) of products with “hypoallergenic” labels included a potentially allergenic chemical. Products that included a “dermatologist-recommended” label had a median price of $0.20 more per ounce than those that did not have the label.

“We looked into what it means to be ‘dermatologist-recommended,’ and it doesn’t mean much because it could be three dermatologists recommending it or 1,000,” said Xu, a resident physician in dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Products currently on the market that are free of typical skin allergens include white petroleum jelly, certain coconut oils that are cold-pressed and not refined, Vanicream’s hypoallergenic products and Aveeno Eczema Therapy moisturizing cream, Xu said.

Moisturizers are a great solution for patients with skin disorders because they retain moisture in the skin, reduce inflammation, help prevent infection, are widely available and are largely affordable, Xu said. But it’s important to know if the ingredients contain allergens, which can be difficult because manufacturers do not have to list every chemical in their products if they are a fragrance. And the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has limited authority over cosmetics, Xu added.

But more labeling is not going to be enough.

“If manufacturers did list all the ingredients, their labels would be 75 pages,” Xu said. “As it stands now, patients have a challenging time making an informed decision by glancing at the back of the bottle. Our study highlights that and aims to make that search easier on consumers by informing dermatologists.”

The researchers looked for the presence of ingredients represented in the North American Contact Dermatitis Group (NACDG), which determines if a product contains typical skin allergens such as fragrance mix, parabens or tocopherol. Only 12 percent of the best-selling moisturizers were free of NACDG allergens.

The top three most affordable moisturizers in the study that were free of NACDG ingredients were Ivory raw unrefined shea butter, Vaseline original petroleum jelly and Smellgood African shea butter.

“There’s a huge loophole relating to fragrances, which is the number one cause of skin allergies related to cosmetics,” Xu said.

Often the products claiming to be “fragrance free” contained a fragrance cross reactor or a botanical ingredient, which can lead to an allergic reaction in some consumers.

“The more we know about the science behind moisturizers, the better we can guide our patients to what they like, what is safe and what is affordable,” Xu said.

Dermatologists like to prescribe ointments because evidence has shown the thickness of an ointment effectively hydrates and protects the skin better than any lotion, cream, butter or oil, Xu said. But he said, “The worst moisturizer is the one the patient won’t use.”

The most popular moisturizers, according to the study, were lotions (59 percent), followed by creams (13 percent), oils (12 percent), butters (8 percent) and ointments (2 percent).

“We could recommend a moisturizer that has no allergy risk and is affordable and effective, but if the patient doesn’t like it, it’s a wasted recommendation,” Xu said. “We need to program into our minds to think differently and strike that fine balance between safe ingredients and user preference.”

Dr. Jonathan Silverberg, assistant professor of dermatology and preventive medicine at Feinberg, a practicing dermatologist at Northwestern Medicine and founder and director of Northwestern Medicine’s Multidisciplinary Eczema Center, is senior author on the paper. Michael Kwa, a third-year medical student at Feinberg, is a co-author on the study.

Class Claims Amazon Sold Shoddy Eclipse Glasses, Partially Blinding Them

ELLEN ROBINSON

August 31, 2017

The moon almost eclipses the sun during a near total solar eclipse as seen from Salem, Ore. on Aug. 21. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (CN) — In a federal class action,  two South Carolinians claim they were partially blinded by watching the Great American Eclipse through defective Solar Eclipse Glasses they bought from Amazon.com.

In their Tuesday lawsuit, Thomas Corey Payne and Kayla Harris say Amazon did not notify them that the eclipse glasses it sold them were defective. Now, they say, they suffer from central blind spots, impaired vision, discomfort and dizziness.

Amazon bought 10 million of the 37 million Solar Eclipse Glasses manufactured by American Paper Optics, according to a July 7 USA Today story cited in the complaint. Two days before the Aug. 21 eclipse, Amazon issued an email warning about the glasses.

But Payne, who bought a three-pack of the glasses on Aug. 1, says that Amazon’s “email ‘recall’ was tragically too little, too late.”

American Paper Optics is not a party to the lawsuit.

“(M)any Eclipse Glasses sold by Amazon were sold in packs of 3 and 20, and distributed to individuals who never received a warning email,” the complaint states. “Notwithstanding Amazon’s woefully inadequate email notification, any and all users of Eclipse Glasses were subjected to unreasonable and foreseeable risks of severe and permanent eye injury due to the negligence of Amazon.”

Read More: https://www.courthousenews.com/class-claims-amazon-sold-shoddy-eclipse-glasses-partially-blinding/

Common antiseptic ingredients de-energize cells and impair hormone response

Public Release: 22-Aug-2017

 

Some disinfectants inhibit cell energy and alter reproduction

University of California – Davis

A new in-vitro study by University of California, Davis, researchers indicates that quaternary ammonium compounds, or “quats,” used as antimicrobial agents in common household products inhibit mitochondria, the powerhouses of the cell, as well as estrogenic functions in cells. Their findings will appear online Aug. 22 in Environmental Health Perspectives, a publication of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Quats are used as antiseptics in toothpastes, mouthwashes, lozenges, nasal sprays, eye drops, shampoos, lotions, intravaginal spermicidal sponges and household cleaners, to name a few.

“Disinfectants that we are putting on and in our bodies, and using in our environment, have been shown to inhibit mitochondrial energy production and the cellular estrogen response,” said biochemist Gino Cortopassi in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. “This raises concern because exposure to other mitochondrial-inhibiting drugs, such as rotenone and MPTP, is associated with increased risk for Parkinson’s disease.”

QUATS DERAIL ENERGY IN CELLS

The study surveyed a collection of 1,600 compounds and drugs in household and pharmaceutical use, with multiple measures of mitochondrial function, and found that quats as a class inhibited mitochondrial function and estrogen signaling.

Mitochondria are critical cell structures that generate energy. Like a train delivering its payload among stations, electrons pass through five stations of the mitochondria to produce maximal cell energy. If the train is derailed at any of those stops, it can’t deliver its payload of energy down the line for the cell to use.

The group also found that quats, at the same concentrations that inhibited mitochondria, inhibited estrogen signaling in cells. Estrogen is a sex hormone responsible for secondary sexual characteristics in females.

“Because exposure to quats is also interrupting the sex hormone estrogen response in cells, it could also potentially cause reproductive harm in animals or humans, and others have shown that quats cause reproductive toxicity in animals,” Cortopassi said.

FROM CELLS TO MAMMALS

While the work at UC Davis has been conducted in cells, not in mammals, a group of researchers at Virginia Tech accidentally discovered a few years ago that quat exposure through a laboratory disinfectant caused reproductive toxicity and reduced fertility in mice. They also recently demonstrated a link between quats and neural tube birth defects in both mice and rats.

“Our study in cells provides a mechanism for their observations in laboratory animals,” said Sandipan Datta, a postdoctoral scholar in Cortopassi’s laboratory. “They demonstrated that quat exposure caused reproductive toxicity in both females and males. The anti-estrogenic effects we see in cells could explain the female reproductive toxicity they observed, such as less estrus cycles and lower breeding rates.”

Quats have been widely used as topical antiseptics and disinfectants since the 1940s. Other antiseptic compounds, such as triclosan, have been withdrawn from the market after research in animal models showed they may impair muscle function.

Some companies have been looking to replace triclosan with quats, Cortopassi said, with the idea that they may be creating a safer product. The research demonstrates that may not be the safest alternative.

TAKING IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL

Cortopassi said it’s important for his team to take this research to the next level in animal models. Additional studies are needed to determine how these chemicals may accumulate in tissues with regular use, and to understand if quat exposure affects health and disease in humans.

“This paper adds to the growing number of studies which find that quats may not be as safe as previously believed,” said Terry Hrubec, associate professor at Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine-Virginia, and not a co-author on this study. “The fact that six out of the 10 most potent mitochondrial inhibitors were quats shows that this class of chemicals likely affects living systems. The results from this study are concerning because almost everyone is exposed to quats on a regular basis.”

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In addition to Cortopassi and Datta, collaborators include Gouchun He, Alexey Tomilov, Sunil Sahdeo and Michael Denison of UC Davis.

Funding for this study was provided by the National Institutes of Health.

On the darknet, drug buyers aren’t looking for bargains

Public Release: 12-Aug-2017

 

Trust is vital on drug-dealing sites, and key to disrupting them

Ohio State University

MONTREAL – When drug users go online for the first time to buy opioids, they aren’t looking for the widest selection or the best prices for their illicit purchases, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that first-time drug buyers who visited one marketplace on the “darknet” cared only about finding trustworthy sellers — those who would deliver what they promised and keep the buyers’ identities secret.

“When opioid users are making that first purchase, price doesn’t matter at all,” said Scott Duxbury, lead author of the study and doctoral student in sociology at The Ohio State University.

“If they come back to buy again, price matters a little, but trust remains their primary concern.”

The study also found that while most of this drug-dealing marketplace could be susceptible to crackdowns by law enforcement, the core group of repeat buyers and sellers would be much harder to shut down.

“This core group could be less vulnerable than their real-world counterparts to disruption by law enforcement,” Duxbury said.

Duxbury and Dana Haynie, professor of sociology at Ohio State, conducted the first study to investigate the network structure of an encrypted online drug distribution network, examining the web of connections between buyers and sellers.

“The accessibility and ease of purchasing illegal drugs online opens up a global market where buyers and sellers are no longer constrained by locality and buyers have more options and diversity in product selection,” Haynie said.

They presented their research Aug. 12 in Montreal at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association and in a paper published recently in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology.

The researchers collected data on all transactions in a six-month period involving opioid dealers on one large drug distribution market, which they called “Cryptomarket.” This market exists on the darknet — a largely hidden part of the web that can be accessed only through Tor, software that allows anonymous transactions and communication.

All the information the researchers collected was available to anyone on Cryptomarket, including usernames for all buyers and sellers and evaluations that sellers and buyers give each other for every transaction. All sellers had reputation scores based on these evaluations, which the researchers used to measure trustworthiness.

The study included 57 sellers and 706 buyers. The researchers found that there were 36 unique communities formed around prolific vendors. The largest community had 146 members.

The overwhelming majority of buyers on Cryptomarket made only one purchase — just 18 percent bought drugs two or more times. But the most enthusiastic buyers made more than 20 purchases during the six-month study.

Duxbury said it is hard to say why most users bought only once. Some may have just been experimenting, or had a bad experience. Some may be making more purchases, but not within the six months covered in this study.

Once buyers found a seller they trusted, they didn’t shop around much, the study found. Only 30 percent of those who bought more than once sought out new vendors.

The fact that most Cryptomarket buyers purchased only from one seller means that the overall network is not very resilient and could be disrupted relatively easily by taking out a few of the most prolific vendors.

“If you eliminate several large sellers, all their buyers are stranded without a seller on the market that they have used before,” Duxbury said.

Another way the researchers measured the resiliency of the Cryptomarket network was by the number of components – a group of buyers and sellers who are connected to each other, but separated from all other groups. More components suggest a more fragmented, weaker network.

The researchers calculated what would happen if they eliminated various combinations of three sellers in the Cryptomarket. In that scenario, the number of components would increase by as much as sevenfold, a major blow to the network’s strength. And the number of buyers alone in the network with no seller they are connected to would increase up to tenfold.

But the core network of sellers and buyers who were involved in more than one transaction (174 of the 763 individuals) would be much more resilient, Duxbury said.

When the researchers eliminated three sellers from this core group, the number of components and the number of buyers with no connected seller both increased by just 30 percent.

“There is less impact on these more highly connected buyers when you take out sellers,” Duxbury said.

“You might have a buyer who has made five purchases from one seller, three from another seller and two from a third one. If you take out one of those sellers, they still have others to go to.”

While officials around the world have made headlines by shutting down darknet drug-selling sites like Silk Road and AlphaBay, Duxbury noted that new sites pop up nearly immediately to replace them.

This study’s results emphasizing the importance of trust may provide the best avenue for at least interrupting the cycle, Duxbury said. Law enforcement should go after the reputation of the sellers, which is easiest when new marketplaces are starting up, he said.

“If officials can find a way to flood a network with bad evaluations when it is first starting, that will make it difficult for buyers to make informed decisions. That could stop markets when they are just beginning,” he said.

But, for now, the results have some troubling implications for the future of illegal drug sales, said Haynie, who is also director of Ohio State’s Criminal Justice Research Center and a member of the university’s Translational Data Analytics Institute.

“With the opioid epidemic underway in the United States and health care professionals limiting the number of opioid-based medications being prescribed, a major concern raised by our study is that more opioid users will turn to the darknet to acquire drugs,” she said.

“We are currently collecting longitudinal data on the online drug market to determine whether this is the case.”

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Contact:

Scott Duxbury
Duxbury.5@osu.edu

Dana Haynie
614-247-7260
Haynie.7@osu.edu

Video games can change your brain

Public Release: 22-Jun-2017

 

Studies investigating how playing video games can affect the brain have shown that they can cause changes in many brain regions

Frontiers

Scientists have collected and summarized studies looking at how video games can shape our brains and behavior. Research to date suggests that playing video games can change the brain regions responsible for attention and visuospatial skills and make them more efficient. The researchers also looked at studies exploring brain regions associated with the reward system, and how these are related to video game addiction.

Do you play video games? If so, you aren’t alone. Video games are becoming more common and are increasingly enjoyed by adults. The average age of gamers has been increasing, and was estimated to be 35 in 2016. Changing technology also means that more people are exposed to video games. Many committed gamers play on desktop computers or consoles, but a new breed of casual gamers has emerged, who play on smartphones and tablets at spare moments throughout the day, like their morning commute. So, we know that video games are an increasingly common form of entertainment, but do they have any effect on our brains and behavior?

Over the years, the media have made various sensationalist claims about video games and their effect on our health and happiness. “Games have sometimes been praised or demonized, often without real data backing up those claims. Moreover, gaming is a popular activity, so everyone seems to have strong opinions on the topic,” says Marc Palaus, first author on the review, recently published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

Palaus and his colleagues wanted to see if any trends had emerged from the research to date concerning how video games affect the structure and activity of our brains. They collected the results from 116 scientific studies, 22 of which looked at structural changes in the brain and 100 of which looked at changes in brain functionality and/or behavior.

The studies show that playing video games can change how our brains perform, and even their structure. For example, playing video games affects our attention, and some studies found that gamers show improvements in several types of attention, such as sustained attention or selective attention. The brain regions involved in attention are also more efficient in gamers and require less activation to sustain attention on demanding tasks.

There is also evidence that video games can increase the size and efficiency of brain regions related to visuospatial skills. For example, the right hippocampus was enlarged in both long-term gamers and volunteers following a video game training program.

Video games can also be addictive, and this kind of addiction is called “Internet gaming disorder”. Researchers have found functional and structural changes in the neural reward system in gaming addicts, in part by exposing them to gaming cues that cause cravings and monitoring their neural responses. These neural changes are basically the same as those seen in other addictive disorders.

So, what do all these brain changes mean? “We focused on how the brain reacts to video game exposure, but these effects do not always translate to real-life changes,” says Palaus. As video games are still quite new, the research into their effects is still in its infancy. For example, we are still working out what aspects of games affect which brain regions and how. “It’s likely that video games have both positive (on attention, visual and motor skills) and negative aspects (risk of addiction), and it is essential we embrace this complexity,” explains Palaus.

Bug spray accumulation in the home

Public Release: 22-Jun-2017

 

Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry

Warmer temperatures can lead to a flurry of unwelcome guests to our house – flies, mosquitoes, fleas, wasps, bedbugs and lice. Pyrethroids are a common pesticide used to repel these pests, and even though they have been found more or less safe for mammals in laboratory studies, they can cause skin irritation, headache, dizziness and nausea for more sensitive individuals. Since the active ingredients of household pesticides are often the same as those used in agriculture, a recent study published in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry addresses “Pyrethroid concentrations and persistence following indoor application” and explores whether laboratory studies are truly representative of what happens in a home.

Lia Nakagawa, lead author and a researcher at the Biological Institute in São Paulo, Brazil, and her colleagues pointed out a few distinct differences from earlier studies on these substances: When used outdoors, microorganisms, rain or sprinklers, and sunlight act to break down the pesticide’s chemical compounds fairly quickly. Second, the chemicals in pyrethroid pesticides adhere to cloth, tiled floors and wood differently than they would to outdoor surfaces.

By running concurrent experiments — one in a controlled laboratory and the other in a test house – the authors found that the pesticides used in the controlled experiment broke down more quickly than those in the test house, with 70% of cypermethrin, a pyrethroid pesticide found in up to 90% of homes, still found in dust samples around the house after one year.

The authors conclude that the persistence of pesticides inside buildings, on surfaces and in the dust in houses can be viewed in a couple of different ways. On the one hand, when using pesticide products in the home, fewer applications should still maintain a long-term control of pests. On the other hand, extended persistence increases the likelihood that residents will be exposed to the pesticide, which can be especially worrying for young children and household pets, who spend more time on the floor and are frequently picking up things and putting them in their mouths. The findings highlight the importance of further studies to evaluate the actual risks of human exposure to pyrethroids when present in dust and on miscellaneous surfaces.

Sugar-sweetened beverages becoming more affordable around the world

Public Release: 4-May-2017

 

Increasing affordability expected to hamper efforts to address global obesity epidemic

American Cancer Society

A new American Cancer Society study concludes that sugar-sweetened beverages have become more affordable in nearly every corner of the globe, and are likely to become even more affordable and more widely consumed. The study appears in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, and concludes that without policy action to raise prices, global efforts to address the obesity epidemic will be hampered.

For the study researchers analyzed both real prices of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) as well as relative income prices, based on annual per capita income in 40 high-income and 42 low-income and middle-income countries around the world between from 1990 to 2016. They used Coca-Cola as a proxy for all sugar-sweetened beverages because it is the most globally recognizable sugar-sweetened beverage brand and widely available worldwide, comprising more than one-fourth (25.8%) of the global market in 2014, more than double its closest competitor.

They found sugar-sweetened beverages became more affordable in 79 of 82 countries between 1990 and 2016, most often due to a combination of increases in income and decreases in price. Real prices dropped in 56 of the 82 countries.

“Overall in the countries we studied, a person in 2016 could buy 71 percent more sugar-sweetened beverages with the same share of their income than they could in 1990,” said Jeffrey Drope, Ph.D., study co-author. “Sugary drinks became even more affordable in developing countries, where 2016’s income could buy 89 percent more sugar-sweetened beverages than in 1990. That’s essentially half-price.”

“Although the increase in affordability is partly due to economic progress that resulted from rapid global economic development, it is also attributable to a lack of action taken by policy makers to affect the price of sugar-sweetened beverages,” write the authors. “We argue and the scientific literature strongly suggests that this environment of increasingly affordable sugar-sweetened beverages will inevitably drive increased consumption of such products and will certainly hamper global efforts to address the overweight and obesity epidemic.”

The authors also reviewed price trends for bottled water comparing them to SSBs to provide a control, and found that bottled water is typically more expensive and less affordable than sugar-sweetened beverages.

Because rising incomes are a positive sign of growth, the authors say “the logical intervention is for governments to affect prices through excise taxation, as they have done with other unhealthful products such as cigarettes.”

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Article: Blecher E, Liber AC, Drope JM, Nguyen B, Stoklosa M. Global Trends in the Affordability of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages, 1990-2016. Prev Chronic Dis 2017; 14:160406. DOI: 10.5888/pcd14.160406.

50 per cent of baby rice food products still contain an illegal level of inorganic arsenic.

Public Release: 4-May-2017

Queen’s research shows illegal levels of arsenic found in baby foods

Queen’s University Belfast

In January 2016, the EU imposed a maximum limit of inorganic arsenic on manufacturers in a bid to mitigate associated health risks. Researchers at the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s have found that little has changed since this law was passed and that 50 per cent of baby rice food products still contain an illegal level of inorganic arsenic.

Professor Meharg, lead author of the study and Professor of Plant and Soil Sciences at Queen’s, said: “This research has shown direct evidence that babies are exposed to illegal levels of arsenic despite the EU regulation to specifically address this health challenge. Babies are particularly vulnerable to the damaging effects of arsenic that can prevent the healthy development of a baby’s growth, IQ and immune system to name but a few.”

Rice has, typically, ten times more inorganic arsenic than other foods and chronic exposure can cause a range of health problems including developmental problems, heart disease, diabetes and nervous system damage.

As babies are rapidly growing they are at a sensitive stage of development and are known to be more susceptible to the damaging effects of arsenic, which can inhibit their development and cause long-term health problems. Babies and young children under the age of five also eat around three times more food on a body weight basis than adults, which means that, relatively, they have three times greater exposures to inorganic arsenic from the same food item.

The research findings, published in the PLOS ONE journal today, compared the level of arsenic in urine samples among infants who were breast-fed or formula-fed before and after weaning. A higher concentration of arsenic was found in formula-fed infants, particularly among those who were fed non-dairy formulas which includes rice-fortified formulas favoured for infants with dietary requirements such as wheat or dairy intolerance. The weaning process further increased infants’ exposure to arsenic, with babies five times more exposed to arsenic after the weaning process, highlighting the clear link between rice-based baby products and exposure to arsenic.

In this new study, researchers at Queen’s also compared baby food products containing rice before and after the law was passed and discovered that higher levels of arsenic were in fact found in the products since the new regulations were implemented. Nearly 75 per cent of the rice-based products specifically marketed for infants and young children contained more than the standard level of arsenic stipulated by the EU law.

Rice and rice-based products are a popular choice for parents, widely used during weaning, and to feed young children, due to its availability, nutritional value and relatively low allergic potential.

Professor Meharg explained: “Products such as rice-cakes and rice cereals are common in babies’ diets. This study found that almost three-quarters of baby crackers, specifically marketed for children exceeded the maximum amount of arsenic.”

Previous research led by Professor Meharg highlighted how a simple process of percolating rice could remove up to 85 per cent of arsenic. Professor Meharg adds: “Simple measures can be taken to dramatically reduce the arsenic in these products so there is no excuse for manufacturers to be selling baby food products with such harmful levels of this carcinogenic substance.

“Manufacturers should be held accountable for selling products that are not meeting the required EU standard. Companies should publish the levels of arsenic in their products to prevent those with illegal amounts from being sold. This will enable consumers to make an informed decision, aware of any risks associated before consuming products containing arsenic.”

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High-fructose diet during and after pregnancy can cause a fatty liver in offspring

Public Release: 26-Apr-2017

 

A diet high in fructose-containing sugars eaten during pregnancy or while breastfeeding can cause offspring to have a fatty liver, increasing their chances of developing obesity or type 2 diabetes

The Physiological Society

A diet high in fructose-containing sugars eaten during pregnancy or while breastfeeding can cause offspring to have a fatty liver, increasing their chances of developing obesity or type 2 diabetes. This is according to a new rat study published in The Journal of Physiology.

Many cereals, sugary soft drinks and other processed foods have fructose-containing sugars, including sucrose and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Excess consumption of these sugars is as a major contributor to obesity and type 2 diabetes. Few studies have shown the impact of a diet high in fructose-containing sugars on offspring during and after pregnancy. This research shows that a maternal diet high in fructose-containing sugars during and after pregnancy can cause a fatty liver in offspring. This can negatively impact the metabolic health of the offspring, contributing to the development of obesity or type 2 diabetes in the future.

The researchers gave female rats water supplemented with fructose-containing sugars (sucrose or HFCS) at an amount equivalent to those in standard soft drinks, before, during and after pregnancy. After birth, offspring were weaned by a mother who had access to the same fructose-containing beverage, or by one who had access to water only. Body weight, fat mass and glucose control in the offspring were measured and tissues were analysed to see the amount and type of fat in their livers. Offspring from mothers who had a diet high in fructose-containing sugars had a detrimental fat content and composition in their livers. This was especially true for offspring who were weaned by mothers who drank the fructose-containing beverage. This shows that the timing of exposure to fructose sugars is important, highlighting implications for breastfeeding mothers.

Dr Sheridan Gentili, Senior Lecturer in Biological Sciences at the University of South Australia and lead investigator of the study says, ‘This study highlights the importance of maternal nutrition during the lactation period. Guidelines for consuming added sugars or sugar-sweetened beverages during pregnancy should consider this.’

She added, ‘As there are differences in physiology between humans and rodents, we need to be careful when translating this research directly to humans.’

Daily consumption of sodas, fruit juices and artificially sweetened sodas affect brain

Public Release: 20-Apr-2017

 

Boston University Medical Center

 

(Boston)–Data from the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) has shown that people who more frequently consume sugary beverages such as sodas and fruit juices are more likely to have poorer memory, smaller overall brain volumes and smaller hippocampal volumes–an area of the brain important for memory. Researchers also found that people who drank diet soda daily were almost three times as likely to develop stroke and dementia when compared to those who did not consume diet soda.

These findings appear separately in the journals Alzheimer’s & Dementia and the journal Stroke.

“Our findings indicate an association between higher sugary beverage intake and brain atrophy, including lower brain volume and poorer memory,” explained corresponding author Matthew Pase, PhD, fellow in the department of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and investigator at the FHS.

“We also found that people drinking diet soda daily were almost three times as likely to develop stroke and dementia. This included a higher risk of ischemic stroke, where blood vessels in the brain become obstructed and Alzheimer’s disease dementia, the most common form of dementia,” he said.

Excess sugar is known to have adverse effects on health. Diet soft drinks are often touted as a healthier alternative to regular soda. However both sugar and artificially-sweetened beverage consumption has been linked to cardiometabolic risk factors, which increases the risk of cerebrovascular disease and dementia.

In these studies approximately 4,000 participants over the age of 30 from the community-based FHS were examined using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and cognitive testing to measure the relationship between beverage intake and brain volumes as well as thinking and memory. The researchers then monitored 2,888 participants age 45 and over for the development of a stroke and 1,484 participants age 60 and older for dementia for 10 years.

The researchers point out that preexisting conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and high blood pressure did not completely explain their findings. For example, people who more frequently consumed diet soda were also more likely to be diabetic, which is thought to increase the risk of dementia. However, even after excluding diabetics from the study, diet soda consumption was still associated with the risk of dementia.

Although the researchers suggest that people should be cautious about regularly consuming either diet sodas or sugary beverages, it is premature to say their observations represent cause and effect. Future studies are needed to test whether giving people artificial sweeteners causes adverse effects on the brain.

High-sugar diet programs a short lifespan

“The findings improve our understanding how changes in diet and gene expression affect the speed of ageing.”

Public Release: 10-Jan-2017

High-sugar diet programs a short lifespan in flies

University College London

 

Flies with a history of eating a high sugar diet live shorter lives, even after their diet improves. This is because the unhealthy diet drives long-term reprogramming of gene expression, according to a UCL-led team of researchers.

The study, published today in Cell Reports, discovered that the action of a gene called FOXO is inhibited in flies given a high sugar diet in early life, causing long-term effects. The FOXO gene is important for longevity in a wide variety of species, including yeast, flies, worms and humans, so the team say the findings may have broad implications.

“Dietary history has a long lasting effect on health, and now we know a mechanism behind this. We think the reprogramming of the flies’ genes caused by the high sugar diet might occur in other animals. We don’t know that it happens in humans, but the signs suggest that it could,” said first author, Dr Adam Dobson, UCL Institute of Healthy Ageing.

The team, involving researchers from UCL and Monash University (Australia), compared the lifespans of female flies fed a healthy diet containing 5% sugar to those given eight times this amount. The flies, which live to about 90 days on average, were fed both diets for three weeks before all were given a healthy diet.

Even while feeding on a healthy diet, the flies that had previously eaten a high-sugar diet started to die earlier, and on average had 7% shorter lifespans. This was caused by a change in the programming of the flies’ physiology caused by the sugar-rich diet eaten in early adulthood.

To understand how the high sugar diet affected longevity, the scientists analysed the flies at a molecular level. They found the unhealthy diet promoted molecular changes that looked very much like flies with genetically reduced FOXO.

Crucially, further experiments showed that the diet-driven changes to lifespan are dependent on FOXO. This mechanism was also found in another species, a worm called Caenorhabditis elegans, suggesting it is relevant to a variety of animals.

“The fact that transient high sugar accelerates ageing in both species and by the same mechanism is pretty shocking. It is yet more evidence of how much we have to fear from excess sugar in the diet,” said co-author, Professor David Gems, UCL Institute of Healthy Ageing.

The findings improve our understanding how changes in diet and gene expression affect the speed of ageing.

Senior author, Dr Nazif Alic, UCL Institute of Healthy Ageing, said: “The burden of age-related ill health is being exacerbated by poor diets and we know these can cause long-term, detrimental effects by programming our physiology. Our finding helps understand how bad diets can impact on animal lifespan. The dietary intervention we used is extreme – similar to feeding a human only cake for two decades – but the mechanism we uncovered may also be mediating long-term effects of diet in humans and this is an important idea to explore in the future.”

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The work was kindly funded by the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council, Medical Research Council, Royal Society, Wellcome and Australian Research Council.

Sugar-free and ‘diet’ drinks no better for healthy weight than full sugar drinks

Public Release: 3-Jan-2017

 

Imperial College London

Sugar-free and “diet” drinks are often seen as the healthier option – but researchers from Imperial College London have argued that they are no more helpful for maintaining a healthy weight than their full-sugar versions.

In a commentary on current research and policy into sweetened drinks, academics from Imperial College London and two Brazilian universities (University of Sao Paulo and Federal University of Pelotas) argued that sugar-free versions of drinks may be no better for weight loss or preventing weight gain than their full sugar counterparts, and may also be detrimental to the environment.

Artificially-sweetened beverages (ASBs) are alternatives to full-sugared drinks. They contain no sugar and are sweetened with artificial sweeteners instead. ASBs are often known as “diet” versions of soft drinks, and may be perceived by consumers as the healthier option for those who want to lose weight or reduce their sugar intake. However, there is no solid evidence to support the claims that they are any better for health or prevent obesity and obesity related diseases such as type 2 diabetes.

Professor Christopher Millett, senior investigator from Imperial’s School of Public Health, said “A common perception, which may be influenced by industry marketing, is that because ‘diet’ drinks have no sugar, they must be healthier and aid weight loss when used as a substitute for full sugar versions. However we found no solid evidence to support this.”

Sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) such as soft drinks, fruit-flavoured drinks, and sports drinks, make up a third of UK teenagers’ sugar intake, and nearly half of all sugar intake in the US. SSBs provide many calories but very few essential nutrients, and their consumption is a major cause of increasing rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

ASBs currently comprise a quarter of the global sweetened beverages market, but they are not taxed or regulated to the same extent as SSBs – perhaps due to their perceived harmlessness, say the researchers.

Despite having no or very little energy content, there is a concern that ASBs might trigger compensatory food intake by stimulating sweet taste receptors. This, together with the consumers’ awareness of the low-calorie content of ASBs, may result in overconsumption of other foods, thus contributing to obesity, type 2 diabetes and other obesity-related health problems.

Professor Millett and colleagues outlined current evidence of the health effects of consuming ASBs. Although there was no direct evidence for a role of ASBs in weight gain, they found that there was no evidence that ASBs aid weight loss or prevent weight gain compared with the full sugar versions.

In addition, the production of ASBs has negative consequences for the environment, with up to 300 litres of water required to produce a 0.5 L plastic bottle of carbonated soft drink.

Dr Maria Carolina Borges, first author of the study from the Federal University of Pelotas in Brazil added: “The lack of solid evidence on the health effects of ASBs and the potential influence of bias from industry funded studies should be taken seriously when discussing whether ASBs are adequate alternatives to SSBs.”

Professor Carlos Monteiro, co-author from the University of Sao Paulo, said: “Taxes and regulation on SBS and not ASBs will ultimately promote the consumption of diet drinks rather than plain water – the desirable source of hydration for everyone.”

The authors added: “Far from helping to solve the global obesity crisis, ASBs may be contributing to the problem and should not be promoted as part of a healthy diet.”

The strange effects of thinking healthy food is costlier

Public Release: 19-Dec-2016

 

Price of food even influences what health issues we worry about

Ohio State University

 

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Consumers believe healthy food must be more expensive than cheap eats and that higher-priced food is healthier – even when there is no supporting evidence, according to new research.

The results mean not only that marketers can charge more for products that are touted as healthy, but that consumers may not believe that a product is healthy if it doesn’t cost more, researchers say.

And this belief in the health power of expensive foods may lead people to some other surprising conclusions.

For example, people in one study thought eye health was a more important issue for them when they were told about an expensive but unfamiliar food ingredient that would protect their vision. If the same ingredient was relatively cheap, people didn’t think the issue it treated – eye health – was as important.

“It’s concerning. The findings suggest that price of food alone can impact our perceptions of what is healthy and even what health issues we should be concerned about,” said Rebecca Reczek, co-author of the study and professor of marketing at The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business.

Reczek conducted the study with Kelly Haws of Vanderbilt University and Kevin Sample of the University of Georgia. Their results appear online in the Journal of Consumer Research.

Reczek said she and her colleagues conducted the study to examine the lay theory that we have to pay more to eat healthfully. Lay theories are the common-sense explanations people use to understand the world around them, whether they are true or not.

Messages consistent with the healthy = expensive lay theory are all around us, she said. One example is the “Whole Paycheck” nickname people have given to Whole Foods, which touts itself as “America’s Healthiest Grocery Store.”

There are certainly categories of food where healthy is more expensive, such as some organic and gluten-free products, Reczek said. But it is not necessarily true all the time. Still, this research wasn’t meant to investigate the true relationship between healthy foods and price – just people’s perceptions of that relationship.

The researchers conducted five related studies, all with different participants. In one, participants were given information on what they were told was a new product called “granola bites,” which was given a health grade of either A- or C. They were then asked to rate how expensive the product would be. Participants who were told the health grade was A- thought the granola bites would be more expensive than did those who were told the grade was C.

In a second study, the researchers found that the healthy = expensive belief operates in both directions. In this study, participants rated a breakfast cracker that they were told was more expensive as healthier than an identical cracker that cost less.

But could this lay belief influence how people act? In the next experiment, a different group of people was asked to imagine that a co-worker had asked them to order lunch for them. Half the people were told the co-worker wanted a healthy lunch, while the others weren’t give any instructions.

On a computer screen, participants were given their choice of two different chicken wraps to choose for their co-worker, one called the Chicken Balsamic Wrap and the other called the Roasted Chicken Wrap. The ingredients were listed for both.

The key was that for some participants the Chicken Balsamic Wrap was listed as more expensive, and for others the Roasted Chicken Wrap cost more.

Results showed that when participants were asked to pick the healthiest option, they were much more likely to choose the more expensive chicken wrap – regardless of which one it was.

“People don’t just believe that healthy means more expensive – they’re making choices based on that belief,” Reczek said.

It was the results of the next study that most intrigued Reczek.

In this experiment, participants were told to imagine they were at a grocery store to buy trail mix and they were presented with four options, all at different price points. The option that the researchers were interested in was called the “Perfect Vision Mix.” Some participants saw the mix touted as “Rich in Vitamin A for eye health.” Others saw the line “Rich in DHA for eye health.”

While both Vitamin A and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are indeed good for eye health, the researchers had previously determined that few people are familiar with DHA.

Some participants saw the trail mix listed at an average price, while others saw it listed at a premium price above the other three trail mixes.

Participants were then asked about their perceptions of the key ingredient in the trail mix, either Vitamin A or DHA.

When the ingredient was Vitamin A, people thought it was equally important in a healthy diet, regardless of the price. But if the ingredient was DHA, participants thought it was a more important part of a healthy diet if it was in the expensive trail mix than when it was in the average-priced mix.

“People are familiar with Vitamin A, so they feel they can judge its value without any price cues,” Reczek said.

“But people don’t know much about DHA, so they go back to the lay theory that expensive must be healthier.”

But the healthy = expensive theory had an even more surprising effect. When participants were told DHA helped prevent macular degeneration, people thought this was a more important health issue when the trail mix with DHA was more expensive. When the DHA product was an average price, they were less concerned about macular degeneration.

This effect was not seen with people who were told the trail mix had Vitamin A – again, probably because it was more familiar to the participants, Reczek said.

In the final study, participants were asked to evaluate a new product that would have the brand slogan “Healthiest Protein Bar on the Planet.” They were told this bar would compete against other products that averaged $2 per bar.

Some participants were told this new bar would be $0.99, while others were told it would be $4.

They were then given the opportunity to read reviews of the bar before they offered their own evaluation.

Findings showed the participants read significantly more reviews when they were told the bar would cost only $0.99 than when it cost $4.

“People just couldn’t believe that the ‘healthiest protein bar on the planet’ would cost less than the average bar,” Reczek said. “They had to read more to convince themselves this was true. They were much more willing to accept that the healthy bar would cost twice as much as average.”

While these results may be concerning for consumers, Reczek said there is a remedy.

“We need to be aware of our expensive-equals-healthy bias and look to overcome it by searching out objective evidence,” Reczek said.

“It makes it easier for us when we’re shopping to use this lay theory, and just assume we’re getting something healthier when we pay more. But we don’t have to be led astray. We can compare nutrition labels and we can do research before we go to the grocery store. We can use facts rather than our intuition.”

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Contact: Rebecca Walker Reczek, Reczek.3@osu.edu
Written by Jeff Grabmeier, 614-292-8457; Grabmeier.1@osu.edu

Chemical exposure linked to lower vitamin D levels

 

Date:

September 20, 2016

Source:

Endocrine Society

Summary:

Exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) may reduce levels of vitamin D in the bloodstream, according to a new study.

 

FULL STORY


Exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) may reduce levels of vitamin D in the bloodstream, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

The study is the first to find an association between EDC exposure and vitamin D levels in a large group of U.S. adults.

EDCs are chemicals or mixtures of chemicals that can cause adverse health effects by interfering with hormones in the body. The Society’s Scientific Statement on EDCs examined more than 1,300 studies that found links between chemical exposure and health problems, including infertility, obesity, diabetes, neurological problems and hormone-related cancers.

“Nearly every person on the planet is exposed to BPA and another class of endocrine-disrupting chemicals called phthalates, so the possibility that these chemicals may even slightly reduce vitamin D levels has widespread implications for public health,” said the study’s first author, Lauren Johns, MPH, a PhD candidate at the University of Michigan School of Public Health in Ann Arbor, MI. “Vitamin D plays a broad role in maintaining bone and muscle health. In addition, low vitamin D levels have been implicated in outcomes of numerous conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.”

EDCs are found in everyday products and throughout the environment. There are more than 85,000 manufactured chemicals, of which thousands may be EDCs. BPA, a known EDC, is often found in plastics and other consumer products. Another group of chemicals linked to hormone disruption, phthalates, are found in personal care products such as cosmetics, children’s products, food packaging and medical tubing.

The study examined data from 4,667 adults who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) between 2005 and 2010. NHANES is a cross-sectional study designed to collect health and nutrition data from a sample of adults from across the United States. The participants provided blood samples so their vitamin D levels could be measured. To measure EDC exposure, the participants had their urine analyzed for substances left behind after the body metabolized phthalates and BPA.

The study found people who were exposed to larger amounts of phthalates were more likely to have low levels of vitamin D in the bloodstream than the participants who were exposed to smaller amounts of the EDCs. The link was strongest in women. There also was an association between exposure to higher levels of BPA and reduced vitamin D levels in women, although the relationship was not statistically significant in men.

“More research is needed into why an association exists, but it is possible that EDCs alter the active form of vitamin D in the body through some of the same mechanisms that they use to impact similar reproductive and thyroid hormones,” said Professor John D. Meeker, MS, ScD, senior author of the study. “Confirmatory studies are needed to show whether this association exists in other populations.”


Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Endocrine Society. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Lauren E. Johns, Kelly K. Ferguson, John D. Meeker. Relationships Between Urinary Phthalate Metabolite and Bisphenol A Concentrations and Vitamin D Levels in U.S. Adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2005–2010. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2016; jc.2016-2134 DOI: 10.1210/jc.2016-2134

Cite This Page:

Endocrine Society. “Chemical exposure linked to lower vitamin D levels.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 September 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160920130828.htm>.

Fluoridated water consumption linked to diabetes

“fluoridation with sodium fluoride could be a contributing factor to diabetes rates in the United States, as the chemical is a known preservative of blood glucose.”

Public Release: 17-Aug-2016

Fluoride consumption linked to diabetes using mathematical models

Regression analyses suggest association between increases in consumption of fluoridated water and type 2 diabetes

Case Western Reserve University

Water fluoridation prevents dental cavities, which are a costly public health concern. But despite the benefits supplemental water fluoridation remains a controversial subject. Some indicate it may cause long term health problems, but studies reporting side effects have been minimal or inconclusive. The long-term effects of ingested fluoride remain unclear.

A recent study published in the Journal of Water and Health examined links between water fluoridation and diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a growing epidemic in the United States. Incidence rates have nearly quadrupled in the past 32 years and show no signs of stopping. According to the study, fluoridation with sodium fluoride could be a contributing factor to diabetes rates in the United States, as the chemical is a known preservative of blood glucose.

The sole author of the paper, Kyle Fluegge, PhD, performed the study as a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Fluegge now serves as health economist in the Division of Disease Control for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and co-director of the Institute of Health and Environmental Research in Cleveland, Ohio.

In the study, Fluegge used mathematical models to analyze publicly available data on fluoride water levels and diabetes incidence and prevalence rates across 22 states. He also included adjustments for obesity and physical inactivity collected from national telephone surveys to help rule out confounding factors. Two sets of regression analyses suggested that supplemental water fluoridation was significantly associated with increases in diabetes between 2005 and 2010.

“The models look at the outcomes of [diabetes] incidence and prevalence being predicted by both natural and added fluoride,” said Fluegge.

Fluegge reported that a one milligram increase in average county fluoride levels predicted a 0.17% increase in age-adjusted diabetes prevalence. Digging deeper revealed differences between the types of fluoride additives used by each region. The additives linked to diabetes in the analyses included sodium fluoride and sodium fluorosilicate. Fluorosilicic acid seemed to have an opposing effect and was associated with decreases in diabetes incidence and prevalence. Counties that relied on naturally occurring fluoride in their water and did not supplement with fluoride additives also had lower diabetes rates.

The positive association between fluoridation and diabetes was discovered when Fluegge adjusted fluoride exposure levels to account for estimated per capita tap water consumption.

“The models present an interesting conclusion that the association of water fluoridation to diabetes outcomes depends on the adjusted per capita consumption of tap water,” explained Fluegge. “Only using the concentration [of added fluoride] does not produce a similarly robust, consistent association.” For this reason, Fluegge adjusted his calculations to incorporate tap water consumption, instead of sticking to calculations that rely on “parts per million” measurements of fluoride in the water.

Fluegge used several estimations in his study, including calculations of county-level water fluoride levels; per capita county tap water consumption; and county measures of poverty, obesity and physical inactivity. Although he doesn’t suggest the study should trigger policy changes, he does indicate it should serve as a call for additional research on the important association between fluoridation and diabetes.

“This is an ecological study. This means it is not appropriate to apply these findings directly to individuals,” explained Fluegge. “These are population-level associations being made in the context of an exploratory inquiry. And water is not the only direct source of fluoride; there are many other food sources produced with fluoridated water.”

In addition to being found in food like processed beverages or produce exposed to specific pesticides, fluoride is found naturally in water in the form of calcium fluoride. Supplemental fluoride was first added to community water supplies in the 1940s.

Said Fluegge, “The models indicate that natural environmental fluoride has a protective effect from diabetes. Unfortunately, natural fluoride is not universally present in the water supply.”

Residents can learn more about fluoride levels in their communities through the Centers for Disease Control My Water’s Fluoride database.

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This work was supported by a National Institutes of Health National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NIH NHLBI) training grant T32HL007567.

For more information about Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, please visit: http://case.edu/medicine

Revised UK ‘Eatwell Guide’ promotes industry wealth not public health, argues expert

Public Release: 13-Jun-2016

 

It lacks evidence base; high carb-low fat approach has parallelled rises in obesity and diabetes

BMJ

The revised UK ‘Eatwell Guide,’ which visually represents the government’s recommendations on food groups for a ‘healthy, balanced diet,’ is not evidence based, and has been formulated by too many people with industry ties, insists a dietary expert in an editorial published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

And the continuation of the high carb-low fat approach it purveys has been accompanied by continuing rises in obesity and diabetes, points out Dr Zoe Harcombe of the Institute of Clinical Exercise and Health Science, University of West of Scotland.

The Eatwell Guide started out in 1994 as The Balance of Good Health — a segmented plate of the daily proportions of food groups needed for a healthy diet — issued by the Department of Health.

The Food Standards Agency relaunched it with “cosmetic changes” as the Eatwell Plate in 2007, until its current reincarnation in March of this year as The Eatwell Guide, under the stewardship of Public Health England — again with many of the changes purely cosmetic, says Dr Harcombe.

In its latest guise, the segment proportions have changed, with starchy foods rising from 33% to 38% and fruit and veg up from 33% to 40%, while milk and dairy have almost halved from 15% to 8%, for example.

The previous segment of foods high in fat and sugars has morphed into unsaturated oils and spreads, which prompted one of the UK’s largest food manufacturers to take out ads in national newspapers celebrating their “dedicated section,” Dr Harcombe points out.

And she insists: “The Eatwell Guide was formulated by a group appointed by Public Health England, consisting primarily of members of the food and drink industry rather than independent experts.”

But the primary flaw of the Eatwell Guide “as with its predecessors, is that it is not evidence based,” she says. “There has been no randomised controlled trial of a diet based on the Eatwell Plate or Guide, let alone one large enough, long enough, with whole population generalisability,” she writes.

The emphasis on carbs is the result of dietary advice to restrict fat, but this was not based on the evidence, while the advice on carbs has never been tested, she says. “Not even the hydration message [to drink 6-8 glasses of sugar-free fluid] holds water,” she suggests.

Furthermore, in private correspondence with the Food Standards Agency in 2009, the Agency confirmed that the food group percentages for the Eatwell Plate were based on weight.

But food weight doesn’t matter to the human body; what counts are calories, macro and micronutrients, she says.

“Given the vastly different calorie content of 100 g of fruit and vegetables vs 100 g of oils, the plate proportions change substantially when calories are counted,” she writes.

It could be said that the high carb-low fat diet has been tested on the UK population, but with negative impact, as the rates of obesity and diabetes have soared since the 70s and 80s, she says.

“The association between the introduction of the dietary guidelines, and concomitant increases in obesity and diabetes, deserves examination,” particularly as several recent reviews have suggested a causal relationship between the two, she suggests.

“The greatest flaw of the latest public health dietary advice might be the missed opportunity to deliver a simple and powerful message to return people to the diets we enjoyed before carbohydrate conditions convened. But when the who’s who of the food industry were represented on the group, ‘Eat Real Food!’ was never a likely outcome,” she concludes.

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Sugar substitutes may cut calories, but no health benefits for individuals with obesity: York U

Public Release: 24-May-2016

 

The study suggests that the bacteria in the gut may be able to break down artificial sweeteners, resulting in negative health effects

York University

TORONTO, May 24, 2016 — Artificial sweeteners help individuals with obesity to cut calories and lose weight but may have negative health effects, according to researchers at York University’s Faculty of Health.

“Our study shows that individuals with obesity who consume artificial sweeteners, particularly aspartame, may have worse glucose management than those who don’t take sugar substitutes,” says Professor Jennifer Kuk, obesity researcher in the School of Kinesiology and Health Science.

Normally, weight loss is associated with several improvements in health. Artificial sweeteners are often used to help individuals cut calories and manage their weight as they are not digested by the body. However, the recent study suggests that the bacteria in the gut may be able to break down artificial sweeteners, resulting in negative health effects.

“We didn’t find this adverse effect in those consuming saccharin or natural sugars,” says Kuk. “We will need to do future studies to determine whether any potentially negative health effects of artificial sweeteners outweigh the benefits for obesity reduction.”

Currently, there are many new sugar substitutes that are used in foods. The researchers note that further investigation is needed to determine if there are any health effects of using these sweeteners.

For the study, data from 2856 U.S. adults from the Third National Health and Nutrition Survey (NHANES III) was used. Individuals reported their diet over the past 24 hours and were categorized as consumers of artificial sweeteners (aspartame or saccharin), or high or low consumers of natural sugars (sugar or fructose). Diabetes risk was measured as the ability to manage blood sugars using an oral glucose tolerance test.

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The Canadian Institutes of Health Research funded study, “Aspartame intake is associated with greater glucose intolerance in individuals with obesity,” was published today in Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism.

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