Health insurers using drug coverage to discriminate

Public Release: 28-Jan-2015

In some US health plans, HIV drugs cost nearly $3,000 more per year than in other plans. If left unchecked, this practice could partially undermine a central feature of the Affordable Care Act.

Harvard School of Public Health

Boston, MA — Some insurers offering health plans through the new federal marketplace may be using drug coverage decisions to discourage people with HIV from selecting their plans, according to a new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The researchers found that these insurers are placing all HIV drugs in the highest cost-sharing category in their formularies (lists of the plans’ covered drugs and costs), which ends up costing people with HIV several thousands more dollars per year than those enrolled in other plans.

The study appears online January 28, 2015 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“Eliminating discrimination on the basis of preexisting conditions is one of the central features of the Affordable Care Act (ACA),” said Doug Jacobs, MD/MPH candidate at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and lead author of the study. “However, the use of formularies to increase costs and dissuade those with preexisting conditions such as HIV from enrolling in the plan threatens to at least partially undermine this goal of the ACA.” Continue reading “Health insurers using drug coverage to discriminate”

Treat porn ‘epidemic’ in U.S. as public health crisis, activists urge

EEV: ???

AFP-JIJI

May 16, 2014 Online: May 16, 2014

WASHINGTON – Pornography now is so widespread in the U.S. that it deserves to be addressed seriously as a major public health crisis, a panel of activists said Thursday, recommending it be tackled in the same way as teenage smoking or drunk driving.

 

“There’s an untreated pandemic of harm from pornography,” Dawn Hawkins, executive director of Morality in Media, which has campaigned against pornography since 1962, told reporters at the National Press Club in Washington. “There’s a lot of science now proving that pornography is harmful. We know now that almost every family in America has been touched by the harm of pornography.”

 

English: The Pornography Barnstar may be award...

 

 

 

Continue reading “Treat porn ‘epidemic’ in U.S. as public health crisis, activists urge”

US ranks near bottom among industrialized nations in efficiency of health care spending

Contact: Carla Denly cdenly@support.ucla.edu 310-825-6738 University of California – Los Angeles

UCLA, McGill study also shows women fare worse than men in most countries

A new study by researchers at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and McGill University in Montreal reveals that the United States health care system ranks 22nd out of 27 high-income nations when analyzed for its efficiency of turning dollars spent into extending lives.

The study, which appears online Dec. 12 in the “First Look” section of the American Journal of Public Health, illuminates stark differences in countries’ efficiency of spending on health care, and the U.S.’s inferior ranking reflects a high price paid and a low return on investment.   Continue reading “US ranks near bottom among industrialized nations in efficiency of health care spending”

Should your surname carry a health warning?

Contact: Stephanie Burns sburns@bmj.com 44-020-738-36920 BMJ-British Medical Journal

Research: The Brady Bunch? New evidence for nominative determinism in patients’ health: Retrospective, population based cohort study

Patients named Brady could be at an increased risk of requiring a pacemaker compared with the general population, say researchers in a paper published in the Christmas edition of The BMJ this week.

“Nominative determinism” describes how certain people are more likely to choose a profession because of the influence of their surname with a study by Pelham et al concluding that people have a preference for things “that are connected to the self” and are disproportionately more likely to find careers whose “label is closely related to their name”. Continue reading “Should your surname carry a health warning?”

Food poverty in UK has reached level of ‘public health emergency’, warn experts

The Government may be covering up the extent to which austerity and welfare cuts are adding to the problem

Charlie Cooper

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Hunger in Britain has reached the level of a “public health emergency” and the Government may be covering up the extent to which austerity and welfare cuts are adding to the problem, leading experts have said.

In a letter to the British Medical Journal, a group of doctors and senior academics from the Medical Research Council and two leading universities said that the effect of Government policies on vulnerable people’s ability to afford food needed to be “urgently” monitored.

A surge in the number of people requiring emergency food aid, a decrease in the amount of calories consumed by British families, and a doubling of the number of malnutrition cases seen at English hospitals represent “all the signs of a public health emergency that could go unrecognised until it is too late to take preventative action,” they write.

Continue reading “Food poverty in UK has reached level of ‘public health emergency’, warn experts”

FDA – 2012 law now in effect which lifts conflict of interest restrictions on FDA advisory panels

Contact: Kathy Fackelmann kfackelmann@gwu.edu 202-994-8354 George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services

Conflict-of-interest restrictions needed to ensure strong FDA review

Panel members with ties to industry might lead to approval of unsafe drugs, new analysis suggests

WASHINGTON, DC—A 2012 law that loosened conflict-of-interest restrictions for FDA advisory panels could weaken the agency’s review system and could allow more drugs with safety problems to gain market approval, says a new analysis published June 7 in Science by researchers at the George Washington  University School of Public Health and Health Services (SPHHS).

The 2012 legislation removed measures put in place by an earlier law passed in 2007, according to the report by Susan F. Wood, PhD, an associate professor of health policy at SPHHS and Jillian K. Mador, a medical student at the GW School of Medicine & Health Sciences (SMHS). The 2007 FDA Amendments Act put caps on the number of experts with conflict of interest who could serve on FDA advisory panels in order to ensure an impartial review of new drugs, the authors said.

They say there is good reason to worry about the revisions in the law that now allow FDA panels to have more members who report a conflict—such as consulting fees from drug companies.  The removal of the requirement for “caps” on advisory committee members with financial conflicts was seen as a top priority of the pharmaceutical industry during the 2012 passage of the FDA Safety and Innovation Act.

“Panels top-heavy with experts who have financial ties to industry might be more likely to dismiss or ignore scientific evidence of risks or other problems,” said Wood, who is a former FDA official and the lead author on the paper. “This analysis also suggests that loosening the restrictions could lead to an appearance of conflict—and to potentially biased recommendations for approval or disapproval of a FDA regulated product.”

The authors point to historical examples of cases in which loaded panels voted for drugs that were later found to have serious safety problems.

The 2012 law was passed after the drug industry complained that the conflict of interest restrictions slowed down the FDA approval process and made it hard to fill panel positions with qualified experts. But Wood and Mador looked at the evidence and concluded that there are plenty of scientists with expertise to fill these positions—without the ties to the industry.

The analysis goes on to say that the restrictions did not affect FDA’s productivity in the past and there is little reason to think that reinstituting the caps would slow down the process of bringing safe new drugs to market today.  The analysis also demonstrates that the caps have never been reached, so FDA had apparently been successful in identifying experts without financial conflicts.

The analysis concludes that the evidence does not support the decision to remove the caps on conflict of interest and points out that Congress will soon begin discussing reauthorization of the 2012 law which is revised every five years. The authors urge the scientific and medical community to weigh in early on those discussions in order to point out concerns—and to ensure that the FDA Advisory Committee and review process remains strong and effective.

Wood and Mador’s new analysis, “Uncapping Conflict of Interest,” appears in the June 7 issue of Science.

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About the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services:

Established in July 1997, the School of Public Health and Health Services brought together three longstanding university programs in the schools of medicine, business, and education and is now the only school of public health in the nation’s capital. Today, more than 1,100 students from nearly every U.S. state and more than 40 nations pursue undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral-level degrees in public health. http://sphhs.gwu.edu/

Troubling levels of toxic metals found in lipstick

Contact: Sarah Yang scyang@berkeley.edu 510-643-7741 University of California – Berkeley

Berkeley — A new analysis of the contents of lipstick and lip gloss may cause you to pause before puckering.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Public Health tested 32 different lipsticks and lip glosses commonly found in drugstores and department stores. They detected lead, cadmium, chromium, aluminum and five other metals, some of which were found at levels that could raise potential health concerns. Their findings will be published online Thursday, May 2, in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Prior studies also have found metals in cosmetics, but the UC Berkeley researchers estimated risk by analyzing the concentration of the metals detected and consumers’ potential daily intake of the metals, and then comparing this intake  with existing health guidelines.

“Just finding these metals isn’t the issue; it’s the levels that matter,” said study principal investigator S. Katharine Hammond, professor of environmental health sciences. “Some of the toxic metals are occurring at levels that could possibly have an effect in the long term.”

Lipstick and lip gloss are of special concern because when they are not being blotted on tissue or left as kiss marks, they are ingested or absorbed, bit by bit, by the individual wearing them, the study authors said. The researchers developed definitions for average and high use of lip makeup based on usage data reported in a previous study. Average use was defined as a daily ingestion of 24 milligrams of lip makeup per day. Those who slather on the lip color and reapply it repeatedly could fall into the high use category of 87 milligrams ingested per day.

Using acceptable daily intakes derived from this study, average use of some lipsticks and lip glosses would result in excessive exposure to chromium, a carcinogen linked to stomach tumors. High use of these makeup products could result in potential overexposure to aluminum, cadmium and manganese as well. Over time, exposure to high concentrations of manganese has been linked to toxicity in the nervous system.

Lead was detected in 24 products, but at a concentration that was generally lower than the acceptable daily intake level. However, the lead levels still raised concerns for young children, who sometimes play with makeup, since no level of lead exposure is considered safe for them, the researchers said.

The study authors say that for most adults, there is no reason to toss the lip gloss in the trash, but the amount of metals found do signal the need for more oversight by health regulators. At present, there are no U.S. standards for metal content in cosmetics. The authors note that the European Union considers cadmium, chromium and lead to be unacceptable ingredients at any level in cosmetic products.

“I believe that the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) should pay attention to this,” said study lead author Sa Liu, a UC Berkeley researcher in environmental health sciences. “Our study was small, using lip products that had been identified by young Asian women in Oakland, Calif. But, the lipsticks and lip glosses in our study are common brands available in stores everywhere. Based upon our findings, a larger, more thorough survey of lip products and cosmetics in general is warranted.”

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Ann Rojas-Cheatham, director of research and training at the Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice in Oakland, Calif., co-authored the study. The National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health Education Research Center helped support this research.

 

Increasing evidence links high glycemic index foods and dairy products to acne

Contact: Eileen Leahy andjrnlmedia@elsevier.com 732-238-3628 Elsevier Health Sciences

Medical nutrition therapy can play an important role, according to Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics report

Philadelphia, PA, February 20, 2013 – A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has determined that there is increasing evidence of a connection between diet and acne, particularly from high glycemic load diets and dairy products, and that medical nutrition therapy (MNT) can play an important role in acne treatment.

More than 17 million Americans suffer from acne, mostly during their adolescent and young adult years. Acne influences quality of life, including social withdrawal, anxiety, and depression, making treatment essential. Since the late 1800s, research has linked diet to this common disease, identifying chocolate, sugar, and fat as particular culprits, but beginning in the 1960s, studies disassociated diet from the development of acne.

“This change occurred largely because of the results of two important research studies that are repeatedly cited in the literature and popular culture as evidence to refute the association between diet and acne,” says Jennifer Burris, MS, RD, of the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, New York University. “More recently, dermatologists and registered dietitians have revisited the diet-acne relationship and become increasingly interested in the role of medical nutritional therapy in acne treatment.”

Burris and colleagues, William Rietkerk, Department of Dermatology, New York Medical College, and Kathleen Woolf, of New York University’s Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, conducted a literature review to evaluate evidence for the diet-acne connection during three distinctive time periods: early history, the rise of the diet-acne myth, and recent research.

Culling information from studies between 1960 and 2012 that investigated diet and acne, investigators compiled data for a number of study characteristics, including reference, design, participants, intervention method, primary outcome, results and conclusions, covariate considerations, and limitations.

They concluded that a high glycemic index/glycemic load diet and frequent dairy consumption are the leading factors in establishing the link between diet and acne. They also note that although research results from studies conducted over the last 10 years do not demonstrate that diet causes acne, it may influence or aggravate it.

The study team recommends that dermatologists and registered dietitians work collaboratively to design and conduct quality research. “This research is necessary to fully elucidate preliminary results, determine the proposed underlying mechanisms linking diet and acne, and develop potential dietary interventions for acne treatment,” says Burris. “The medical community should not dismiss the possibility of diet therapy as an adjunct treatment for acne. At this time, the best approach is to address each acne patient individually, carefully considering the possibility of dietary counseling.”

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A podcast on this research is available at http://www.eurekalert.org/multimedia/pub/52959.php.

Prescription overdose rate reaches epidemic levels in NYC

Contact: Stephanie Berger sb2247@columbia.edu 212-305-4372 Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health

Fatality rate for white males is 3 times higher than for blacks; Deaths from prescription opioids like Oxycontin soared to 7 times the rate of 1990

The rate of drug overdose from prescription opioids increased seven-fold in New York City over a 16-year period and was concentrated especially among white residents of the city, according to latest research at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. The study is one of the earliest and most comprehensive analyses of how the opioid epidemic has affected an urban area.

The findings are published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

There are two classes of prescription opioids: analgesics, or painkillers like Oxycontin (oxycodone), and methadone, which is used to treat heroin addiction but which carries a risk of overdose. Using data from the city’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for the period 1990-2006, the researchers examined the factors associated with death from prescription opioids versus heroin, which historically has been the most common type of opioid fatality in urban areas.

They found that the increase in the rate of drug overdose was driven entirely by analgesic overdoses, which were 2.7 per 100,000 persons in 2006 or seven times higher than in 1990. Meanwhile, methadone overdoses remained stable, and heroin overdoses declined.

Whites were much more likely to overdose on analgesics than blacks or Hispanics. By 2006, the fatality rate among white males was almost two times higher than the rate among Latinos and three times higher than the rate among blacks.

Deaths were mostly concentrated in neighborhoods with high-income inequality but lower-than-average rates of poverty.

“A possible reason for the concentration of fatalities among whites is that this group is more likely to have access to a doctor who can write prescriptions,” says Magdalena Cerdá, DrPH, assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health and the lead author on the study. “However, more often than not, those who get addicted have begun using the drug through illicit channels rather than through a prescription.”

Price may also play a role, since heroin costs less than analgesics. Additionally, users of prescription opioids may perceive they are safer than other drugs.

Although methadone overdose rates did not increase overall, fatalities among whites increased almost nine-fold while among blacks decreased by 2%. This shift may reflect a change in the nature of methadone use, from a treatment for heroin addiction to a treatment for chronic non-cancer pain.

The study suggests that the profile of a recreational prescription opioid user is very different from the heroin consumer, with less involvement in street-based forms of drug-trafficking and use of other drugs such as cocaine. Because of the different demographics between heroin and prescription opioid users, a different public health approach is needed to target the latter group, say the authors. “It’s a different type of drug with a different profile, and we need a different type of response to it,” said Dr. Cerdá.

Over the last 20 years, prescription drug overdoses have risen dramatically in the U. S. By 2006, overdose fatalities exceeded the number of suicides, and by 2009, they exceeded the number of motor vehicle deaths.

Most studies on recreational opioid use have focused on rural areas, which have been hit the hardest by the epidemic, but this study suggests that urban areas are contending with a growing health burden from opioid use.

The authors recommend regulating the aggressive marketing of potent drugs like Oxycontin, controlling over-prescribing of analgesics, and taking stricter measures to regulate sales. They also say there should be more law enforcement measures to identify illicit networks of distribution of these drugs and education outreach for physicians and patients.

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The research was supported by grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (DA06534, T32 DA007233, and K01 DA030449-01), and a grant from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control to the Columbia University Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention (1 R49 CE002096-01).

About Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health

Founded in 1922, Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health pursues an agenda of research, education, and service to address the critical and complex public health issues affecting New Yorkers, the nation and the world. The Mailman School is the third largest recipient of NIH grants among schools of public health. Its over 450 multi-disciplinary faculty members work in more than 100 countries around the world, addressing such issues as preventing infectious and chronic diseases, environmental health, maternal and child health, health policy, climate change & health, and public health preparedness. It is a leader in public health education with over 1,300 graduate students from more than 40 nations pursuing a variety of master’s and doctoral degree programs. The Mailman School is also home to numerous world-renowned research centers including the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs (ICAP), the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, and the Center for Infection and Immunity. For more information, please visit www.mailman.columbia.edu

CIA Vaccine Hoax Condemned By Public Health Deans

 

Posted: 01/10/2013  5:41 pm EST  |  Updated: 01/10/2013  6:32 pm EST

University public health schools’ deans say health workers should be off limits.

Public health school deans from prominent colleges and universities across the country have signed a letter condemning a hoax the Central Intelligence Agency reportedly used to obtain DNA samples from Osama bin Laden’s former compound before the raid that killed him, the New York Times reports.

Signed by representatives from Columbia, Harvard and Johns Hopkins universities, as well as other public health programs, the letter claims forces hostile to the United States have now targeted vaccinators fighting to eliminate polio in the region because a CIA operation destroyed the trust established between vaccinators and Pakistanis.

The Guardian reported in July 2011 that the CIA admitted to hiring a Pakistani doctor and sending him to Abbottabad in March 2011. He was instructed to tell officials he had procured funds to give free vaccinations for hepatitis B and to sidestep local health services by paying off low-ranking government workers. Health-related professionals typically “were among the few people who had gained access to the bin Laden compound in the past, administering polio drops to some of the children,” according to The Guardian.

The operation, which the CIA has acknowledged, used an existing international framework to eliminate polio; the doctor started his task in poorer districts to avoid suspicion and more closely align himself with existing operations.

After the hoax came to light following the U.S military raid resulting in the death of bin Laden in May 2011, angry villagers have run legitimate vaccinators out of town, and the Taliban has banned health workers from two districts in Pakistan until the United States agrees to end drone attacks — a relatively ineffective ultimatum, according to World Health Organization officials who spoke with the Times.

Nine polio vaccinators were killed in December. In their letter, the public health deans urge the U.S. government to stop using health officials as undercover agents.

The full text of the letter is provided below.

Dear President Obama,In the first years of the Peace Corps, its director, Sargent Shriver, discovered that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was infiltrating his efforts and programs for covert purposes. Mr. Shriver forcefully expressed the unacceptability of this to the President. His action, and the repeated vigilance and actions of future directors, has preserved the Peace Corps as a vehicle of service for our country’s most idealistic citizens. It also protects our Peace Corps volunteers from unwarranted suspicion, and provides opportunities for the Peace Corps to operate in areas of great need that otherwise would be closed off to them.

In September Save the Children was forced by the Government of Pakistan (GoP) to withdraw all foreign national staff. This action was apparently the result of CIA having used the cover of a fictional vaccination campaign to gather information about the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden. In fact, Save the Children never employed the Pakistani physician serving the CIA, yet in the eyes of the GoP he was associated with the organization. This past month, eight or more United Nations health workers who were vaccinating Pakistani children against polio were gunned down in unforgivable acts of terrorism. While political and security agendas may by necessity induce collateral damage, we as an open society set boundaries on these damages, and we believe this sham vaccination campaign exceeded those boundaries.

As an example of the gravity of the situation, today we are on the verge of completely eradicating polio. With your leadership, the U.S. is the largest bilateral donor to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and has provided strong direction and technical assistance as well. Polio particularly threatens young children in the most disadvantaged communities and today has been isolated to just three countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. Now, because of these assassinations of vaccination workers, the UN has been forced to suspend polio eradication efforts in Pakistan. This is only one example, and illustrates why, as a general principle, public health programs should not be used as cover for covert operations.

Independent of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, contaminating humanitarian and public health programs with covert activities threatens the present participants and future potential of much of what we undertake internationally to improve health and provide humanitarian assistance. As public health academic leaders, we hereby urge you to assure the public that this type of practice will not be repeated.

International public health work builds peace and is one of the most constructive means by which our past, present, and future public health students can pursue a life of fulfillment and service. Please do not allow that outlet of common good to be closed to them because of political and/or security interests that ignore the type of unintended negative public health impacts we are witnessing in Pakistan.

Sincerely, Pierre M. Buekens, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D. Dean, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine*

James W. Curran, M.D., M.P.H. Dean, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University*

John R. Finnegan Jr., Ph.D. Professor and Dean, University of Minnesota School of Public Health* Chair of the Board, Association of Schools of Public Health*

Julio Frenk, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D. Dean and T&G Angelopoulos Professor of Public Health and International Development Harvard School of Public Health*

Linda P. Fried, M.D., M.P.H. Dean, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University*

Howard Frumkin, M.D., Dr.P.H. Dean, School of Public Health, University of Washington* Lynn R. Goldman, M.D., M.P.H. Professor and Dean, School of Public Health and Health Services, George Washington University* Jody Heymann, M.D., M.P.P., Ph.D. Dean, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health*

Michael J. Klag, M.D., M.P.H. Dean, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health* Martin Philbert, Ph.D. Dean, School of Public Health, University of Michigan* Barbara K. Rimer, Dr.P.H. Dean and Alumni Distinguished Professor UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health* Stephen M. Shortell, Ph.D. Dean, School of Public Health, University of California Berkeley*

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/10/cia-polio-vaccine-hoax_n_2450726.html

Excessive fructose may be making ‘spoiled appetites’ a thing of the past

 

Posted by January 8, 2013

Back in the day, one of the most common admonitions from moms was “don’t eat that, you’ll spoil your appetite.” But if today’s kids are consuming foods and drinks with higher levels of super-sweet fructose, such as are found in high fructose corn syrup, the very opposite may be true.

According to the results of a new study published at the beginning of January in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), a brain on fructose just doesn’t know when to stop eating.

Drinking a fructose-sweetened beverage, the researchers found, created no sense of having ‘had enough’ giving a “completely different effect” than did the consumption of a beverage containing glucose (which makes up 50 percent of ‘real’ sugar).

“When we gave participants a fructose drink…there was not that fullness signal getting  up to the appetite control region,” said study co-author Dr. Kathleen Page, Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California (USC).

Glucose, however, had the “opposite” effect, Dr. Page noted, in that it “basically inhibited those regions of the brain called the hypothalamus and reward regions…that regulate motivation for food.”

The study, conducted with 20 volunteers using MRI scans to view brain blood flow, was, Dr. Page said, “exactly” what had previously been seen in lab experiments with animals.

The Corn Refiners Association (CRA), quick to notice any mention of ‘overeating’ and ‘fructose’ in the same sentence, sent out a press release the same day the study was released saying that the study involved “massive doses of sugars” not consumed in “real life.”

“I don’t think that’s a true comment if you look at the amount (of sweetener) in a typical 20-ounce soda, which is 60 grams,” Dr. Page said. “We gave 75 grams so it’s not that much different.”

An ‘unbalanced’ formula with different results

The fructose in sugar, or sucrose, is a set amount of 50 percent with the other half being glucose. In high fructose corn syrup, however, research has shown the amount of fructose varies widely. And even though the CRA doesn’t talk about it, HFCS that is up to 90 percent fructose is apparently being sold for use in some foods and beverages.

“That’s why we are interested, we know there are differences in the way our bodies process fructose and glucose…there are reasons to believe that fructose is worse for us than glucose,”  Dr. Page said, adding “the processing of HFCS, which could be made with higher percentages of fructose…has public health implications.”

While the FDA’s legal limit on the fructose content of HFCS is 55 percent (ten percent higher than sugar), some studies have shown amounts in soft drinks to be as much as 20 percent higher. Research by Dr. Michael Goran, director of the Childhood Obesity Research Center and professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California, found some of the HFCS-sweetened beverages he had analyzed coming in as high as 65 percent fructose. And a recent study in the journal Global Public Health by Dr. Goran pegged HFCS as an “additional contributing factor” to the development of diabetes, likely coming from the “more damaging” fructose in HFCS.

(This past September, Citizens for Health filed a petition with the FDA calling for disclosure of the actual amounts of fructose in HFCS. Read about it here, and sign the petition here).

“It’s hard to know (fructose amounts) as foods don’t state their fructose content, just (total) sugars,” Dr. Page said, pointing out “most people aren’t aware of how much fructose they’re getting in these foods. If Dr. Goran’s study is true, we may actually be getting more fructose than we think.

“We know there are very different hormone responses, and these hormones signal to the brain to make us feel full,” said Dr. Page.  “The body is responding differently to fructose than to glucose, we’re pretty confident with that.”

Dr. Page said she tells her patients a good strategy for healthier eating is to follow the recommendations of the American Heart Association, which include consuming fewer processed products. “You don’t find HFCS in natural foods,” she added.

http://foodidentitytheft.com/excessive-fructose-may-be-making-spoiled-appetites-a-thing-of-the-past/

 

56 percent of female university students get drunk in record time

Contact: Press Office info@agenciasinc.es 34-914-251-820 FECYT – Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology

Female university students get drunk – on purpose – quicker than their male counterparts, and live a more sedentary life than they do, according to a study by the University of Vigo. Results show that 56.1% of female students are considered binge drinkers, as opposed to 41.3% of males.

Researchers from the HealthyFit group at the University of Vigo have studied university students’ lifestyles; their analysis, which includes alcohol and illegal drug consumption habits, sport and food, concludes that most students indulge in unhealthy behaviour. One of the main results of the study is the high consumption of alcohol.

“The amount drunk per unit of time is higher among women. In other words, even though male students drink more often, females do so more intensively in shorter periods of time, which is known as binge drinking”, explained to SINC José Mª Cancela Carral, co-author of the study published by the Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Researchers randomly selected 985 students from different degree courses and in different years at the University of Vigo.

Of the females interviewed, 51.2% lead a sedentary lifestyle, while the percentage in males is 41.7%. When analysing students who maintain an appropriate level of physical activity, 38.6% of males do physical exercise, as opposed to only 20.9% of women.

“We were also surprised by the high consumption of illegal drugs among university students – 44.9% of men and 30.9% of women – which we understand could lead to significant future health problems, mainly related to the nervous system”, underlined the researcher.

Anomalous attitudes to food were more evident among women (16.6%), although also present among men (8.8%). “However, the statistical analysis showed that this parameter depended on the degree the student was studying for”, added Cancela. Such attitudes were much more common among those studying degrees related to education (19.2%) than among those studying courses related to health (6.3%).

Health network

Spanish universities set up a Healthy University Network in 2008, a project for healthy living for universities from all over Spain, the Spanish University Rectors’ Association, the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport and some regional public health entities.

In the researcher’s opinion, at many universities this network was nothing more than “a simple first step to get on the list and nothing else”; hence transversal content should be implemented in study plans related to food, physical exercise and healthy habits.

“In the light of the results, training and information courses are required in these areas, together with healthy leisure – not just sports facilities – to set up university guidance services for a healthy student lifestyle”, concludes Cancela.

Genetic predisposition

A recent study published in the PNAS journal argues that the gene called RASGRF2 could be related to a predisposition to getting drunk.

According to scientists, this gene regulates the predisposition to drink excessive amounts of alcohol as it influences mesolimbic dopamine neuron activity, which is one of the ways dopamine is taken from one region of the brain to another.

Gunter Schumann, one of the main authors of the study, explained that even though we should not consider said gene to be the main cause – as there are many environmental factors and other genes involved – the study thereof helps to explain why some people are more vulnerable to alcohol than others.

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References:

Verónica Varela-Mato, José M. Cancela, Carlos Ayan, Vicente Martín y Antonio Molina. “Lifestyle and Health among Spanish University Students: Differences by Gender and Academic Discipline”, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 9: 2728-2741, 2012. doi:10.3390/ijerph9082728.

David Staceya et al. “RASGRF2 regulates alcohol-induced reinforcement by influencing mesolimbic dopamine neuron activity and dopamine release”, PNAS 109 (51), 5 de diciembre. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1211844110.

Contact:

José Mª Cancela Carral Universidad de Vigo Director del grupo de investigación HealthyFit Tel.: 34-986-801-700/1799 E-mail: chemacc@uvigo.es Web: www.healthyfit.es

Homicide spreads like infectious disease

Contact(s): Andy Henion Media Communications office: (517) 355-3294 cell: (517) 281-6949 Andy.Henion@cabs.msu.edu, April Zeoli Criminal Justice office: (517) 353-9554 zeoli@msu.edu

Homicide moves through a city in a process similar to infectious disease, according to a new study that may give police a new tool in tracking and ultimately preventing murders.

Using Newark, N.J., as a pilot case, a team of Michigan State University researchers led by April Zeoli successfully applied public health tracking methods to the city’s 2,366 homicides between 1982 and 2008. They found the killings were not randomly located but instead followed a pattern, evolving from the city’s center and moving southward and westward over time.

Like a flu bug that spreads to susceptible groups such as children and the elderly, homicide clusters in Newark – often fueled by gangs and guns – spread to areas consisting largely of poor and minority residents. Over time, the concentration of homicides effectively disappeared from one area and settled in another.

“By using the principles of infectious disease control, we may be able to predict the spread of homicide and reduce the incidence of this crime,” said Zeoli, public health researcher in MSU’s School of Criminal Justice.

The study is one of the first to use analytic software from the field of medical geography to track long-term homicide trends. Zeoli said the method can be done in real time which would allow police to identify emerging hotspots.

The researchers also identified areas of Newark that had no homicide clusters during the 26-year time frame of the study, despite being surrounded by deadly violence.

“If we could discover why some of those communities are resistant,” Zeoli said, “we could work on increasing the resistance of our communities that are more susceptible to homicide.”

Joining Zeoli on the study were criminal justice researchers Jesenia Pizarro and Christopher Melde and medical geographer Sue Grady.

The study is published in Justice Quarterly, a research journal.

Alcohol provides protective effect, reduces mortality substantial

Contact: Sherri McGinnis González
smcginn@uic.edu
312-996-8277
University of Illinois at Chicago

Injured patients were less likely to die in the hospital if they had alcohol in their blood, according to a study from the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health — and the more alcohol, the more likely they were to survive.

“This study is not encouraging people to drink,” cautions UIC injury epidemiologist Lee Friedman, author of the study, which will be published in the December issue of the journal Alcohol and is now online.

That’s because alcohol intoxication — even minor inebriation — is associated with an increased risk of being injured, he says.

“However, after an injury, if you are intoxicated there seems to be a pretty substantial protective effect,” said Friedman, who is assistant professor of environmental and occupational health sciences at UIC.

“The more alcohol you have in your system, the more the protective effect.”

Friedman analyzed Illinois Trauma Registry data for 190,612 patients treated at trauma centers between 1995 and 2009 who were tested for blood alcohol content, which ranged from zero to 0.5 percent at the time they were admitted to the trauma unit.

Of that group, 6,733 died in the hospital.

The study examined the relationship of alcohol dosage to in-hospital mortality following traumatic injuries such as fractures, internal injuries and open wounds. Alcohol benefited patients across the range of injuries, with burns as the only exception.

The benefit extended from the lowest blood alcohol concentration (below 0.1 percent) through the highest levels (up to 0.5 percent).

“At the higher levels of blood alcohol concentration, there was a reduction of almost 50 percent in hospital mortality rates,” Friedman said. “This protective benefit persists even after taking into account injury severity and other factors known to be strongly associated with mortality following an injury.”

Very few studies have looked at the physiological mechanisms related to alcohol and injury in humans. Some animal studies have shown a neuro-protective effect from alcohol, but the findings of most animal and previous human studies often contradict one another because of different study criteria.

Friedman says it’s important for clinicians to recognize intoxicated patients but also to understand how alcohol might affect the course of treatment. Further research into the biomechanism of the protective phenomenon is needed, he said.

If the mechanism behind the protective effect were understood, “we could then treat patients post-injury, either in the field or when they arrive at the hospital, with drugs that mimic alcohol,” he said.

 

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[Photos available for download: http://newsphoto.lib.uic.edu/v/friedman].

UIC ranks among the nation’s leading research universities and is Chicago’s largest university with 27,500 students, 12,000 faculty and staff, 15 colleges and the state’s major public medical center. A hallmark of the campus is the Great Cities Commitment, through which UIC faculty, students and staff engage with community, corporate, foundation and government partners in hundreds of programs to improve the quality of life in metropolitan areas around the world. For more information about UIC, please visit www.uic.edu.

Pesticide chlorpyrifos is linked to childhood developmental delays

2010 study posted for filing
Contact: Stephanie Berger
sb2247@columbia.edu
212-305-4372
Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health

March 18, 2010—Exposure to the pesticide chlorpyrifos—which is banned for use in U.S. households but is still widely used throughout the agricultural industry—is associated with early childhood developmental delays, according to a study by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

Findings of the study, “Chlorpyrifos Exposure and Urban Residential Environment Characteristics as Determinants of Early Childhood Neurodevelopment,” are online in the American Journal of Public Health.

The study examined the association between exposure to the pesticide and mental and physical impairments in children in low-income areas of New York City neighborhoods in the South Bronx and Northern Manhattan. Chlorpyrifos was commonly used in these neighborhoods until it was banned for household use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2001. It is still used as an agricultural pesticide on fruits and vegetables. The EPA registration of chlorpyrifos for agricultural use is currently under review, with a public comment period scheduled for the coming months.

“This study helps to fill in the gaps about what is known about the effect of the pesticide chlorpyrifos on the development of young children by showing that there is a clear-cut association between this chemical and delayed mental and motor skill development in children even when there are other potentially harmful environmental factors present,” said Gina Lovasi, PhD, lead author and Mailman School of Public Health assistant professor of epidemiology. Dr. Lovasi conducted the research as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar at the Mailman School.

As in previous research in the same study population, published in Pediatrics in 2006, this study controlled for gender, gestational age at birth, ethnicity, maternal education, maternal intelligence quotient, and exposure to secondhand smoke during pregnancy. What this study adds is that building dilapidation and community-level factors such as percentage of residents living in poverty do not explain the association. After controlling for these factors, the research indicates that high chlorpyrifos exposure (greater than 6.17 pg/g in umbilical cord blood at the time of birth) was associated with a 6.5-point decrease in the Psychomotor Development Index score and a 3.3-point decrease in the Mental Development Index score in 3-year-olds. “These associations remained statistically significant and similar in magnitude after accounting for dilapidated housing and neighborhood characteristics,” noted Dr. Lovasi.

Of the 266 children included as study participants, 47 percent were male, 59 percent were Hispanic of Dominican descent and 41 percent were Black. In addition, children living in neighborhoods with the highest levels of poverty also had lower test scores—a finding that was not affected by pesticide exposure.

Young children have greater exposure to pesticides than adults, since they tend to play on the floor or in the grass—areas where pesticides are commonly applied—and to place their hands and objects in their mouths. Pregnant women exposed to pesticides can also expose their unborn children to the chemicals.

Those who advocate for further restrictions on the use of pesticides, including chlorpyrifos, contend that such chemicals drift from treated agricultural fields to nearby yards, homes and schools, placing pregnant women and children at risk.

“Although this pesticide has been banned for residential use in the United States, chlorpyrifos and other organophosphorus insecticides are still commonly used for a variety of agricultural purposes,” said study co-author Virginia Rauh, ScD, professor of clinical population and family health, and co-deputy director for the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health at the Mailman School of Public Health. “We hope that the results of this study, further demonstrating the neurotoxicity of chlorpyrifos under a range of community conditions, may inform public health professionals and policy-makers about the potential hazards of exposure to this chemical for pregnant women and young children.”

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The research was conducted with the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health, a center funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the Environmental Protection Agency. Mailman School of Public Health co-authors are Virginia Rauh, ScD, Frederica Perera, DrPH, Howard Andrews, PhD, Robin Garfinkel, PhD, Lori Hoepner, MPH, Robin Whyatt, DrPH, and Andrew Rundle, DrPH, and James Quinn, MA, Columbia University’s Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy.

About the Mailman School of Public Health

The only accredited school of public health in New York City and among the first in the nation, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health pursues an agenda of research, education, and service to address the critical and complex public health issues affecting millions of people locally and globally. The Mailman School is the recipient of some of the largest government and private grants in Columbia University’s history. Its more than 1000 graduate students pursue master’s and doctoral degrees, and the School’s 300 multi-disciplinary faculty members work in more than 100 countries around the world, addressing such issues as infectious and chronic diseases, health promotion and disease prevention, environmental health, maternal and child health, health over the life course, health policy, and public health preparedness. Contact: Stephanie Berger, Mailman School of Public Health, 212-305-4372, sb2247@columbia.edu

The RWJF Health & Society Scholars program is designed to build the nation’s capacity for research, leadership and policy change to address the broad range of factors that affect health. Additional information about the RWJF Health & Society Scholars program, including application information, can be found at RWJFLeaders.org.

Stain repellent chemical linked to thyroid disease in adults: perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).

Contact: Andrew Gould andrew.gould@pms.ac.uk 44-139-268-6107 The Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry

A study by the University of Exeter and the Peninsula Medical School for the first time links thyroid disease with human exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). PFOA is a persistent organic chemical used in industrial and consumer goods including nonstick cookware and stain- and water-resistant coatings for carpets and fabrics.

Published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, The study revealed that people with higher concentrations of PFOA in their blood have higher rates of thyroid disease. The researchers analysed samples from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s nationally representative National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

Tamara Galloway, a professor Ecotoxicology at the University of Exeter and the study’s senior author, says: “Our results highlight a real need for further research into the human health effects of low-level exposures to environmental chemicals like PFOA that are ubiquitous in the environment and in people’s homes. We need to know what they are doing.”

“There have long been suspicions that PFOA concentrations might be linked to changes in thyroid hormone levels,” adds study author, David Melzer, a professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at the Peninsula Medical School. “Our analysis shows that in the ‘ordinary’ adult population there is a solid statistical link between higher concentrations of PFOA in blood and thyroid disease.”

PFOA is a very stable man-made chemical that excels at repelling heat, water, grease, and stains. It is used during the process of making common household and industrial items including nonstick pots and pans, flame-resistant and waterproof clothing, wire coatings, and chemical-resistant tubing. PFOA can also be formed by the break-down of certain other highly fluorinated chemicals used in oil and grease-resistant coatings on fast-food containers and wrappers and in stain-resistant carpets, fabrics, and paints.

The study included 3966 adults aged 20 and older whose blood serum was sampled between 1999 and 2006 for PFOA and other perfluoroalkyl acid (PFAA) compounds, including perfluoroctane sulphonate (PFOS). The researchers found that the individuals with the highest 25% of PFOA concentrations (above 5.7ng/ml) were more than twice as likely to report current thyroid disease than individuals with the lowest 50% of PFOA concentrations (below 4.0ng/ml). The most specific analysis included 163 women and 46 men who reported having current thyroid disease and who were taking thyroid medication at the time the blood samples were taken. The models used in the analysis were adjusted for potential confounding factors, such as age, gender, ethnicity, smoking, and body mass index.

Previous animal studies carried out by other scientists have shown that the compounds can affect the function of the mammalian thyroid hormone system. This is essential for maintaining heart rate, regulating body temperature and supporting many other body functions, including metabolism, reproduction, digestion and mental health.

The findings are important because research has shown that PFAAs are found in water, air and soil throughout the world, even in remote polar regions. PFOA and PFOS have also been detected in the blood of people from across the globe, as well as in wildlife including birds, fish, and polar bears.

The main source of human exposure to PFOA and PFOS remains uncertain but is believed to be through diet. However, people may also be exposed through the PFAAs used in consumer goods such as textiles, footwear, furniture, and carpets, which can contaminate indoor air and dust.

Although more research is needed to understand the mechanism by which PFOA and PFOS may affect human thyroid functioning, it is plausible that the compounds could disrupt binding of thyroid hormones in the blood or alter their metabolism in the liver. However, this new evidence does not rule out the possibility that having thyroid disease changes the way the body handles PFOA and/or PFOS. The presence of the compounds might also prove to be simply a marker for some other factor associated with thyroid disease.

Thyroid diseases, particularly hypothyroidism, are much more common in women than men. However, in terms of the link between PFOA and thyroid disease, the researchers found no evidence of a statistically different effect between the sexes. The researchers also found a link between thyroid disease and higher concentrations of PFOS in men, but not in women.

Although previous studies of people living in communities near where PFOA and PFOS are manufactured did not find an association between exposure to these chemicals and thyroid hormone functioning, the largest study of such exposed communities is currently underway. (The ‘C8’ study of communities near DuPont’s Washington Works plant, including Marietta, OH, and Parkersburg, WV, both in the US).

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In addition to Galloway and Melzer, the paper’s authors include Neil Rice of the Peninsula Medical School’s Epidemiology and Public Health Group; Michael H Depledge of the Peninsula Medical School’s European Centre for the Environment and Human Health; and William E Henley of the School of Mathematics and Statistics of the University of Plymouth . They used the U.S. NHANES dataset because it is the only large-scale data available on PFOA and PFOS in a ‘general’ population anywhere in the world.

Chemicals in common consumer products may play a role in pre-term births : phthalates

2009 study posted for filing

Contact: Laura Bailey baileylm@umich.edu 734-647-1848 University of Michigan

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—A new study of expectant mothers suggests that a group of common environmental contaminants called phthalates, which are present in many industrial and consumer products including everyday personal care items, may contribute to the country’s alarming rise in premature births.

Researchers at the University of Michigan School of Public Health found that women who deliver prematurely have, on average, up to three times the phthalate level in their urine compared to women who carry to term.

Professors John Meeker, Rita Loch-Caruso and Howard Hu of the SPH Department of Environmental Health Sciences and collaborators from the National Institute of Public Health in Mexico and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed data from a larger study directed by Hu, which follows a cohort of Mexican women recruited during pre-natal visits at one of four clinics of the Mexican Institute of Social Security in Mexico City.

Meeker and colleagues looked at data from 60 women: 30 who carried to term and 30 who delivered prematurely (defined as less than 37 weeks gestation). They analyzed urine samples collected during the third trimester and compared them to the control group who carried to term. They found significantly higher phthalate metabolite levels in the women who delivered prematurely.

Premature birth is a significant risk factor for many health problems in childhood that can persist into adulthood, Meeker says. In the United States, premature births have increased by more than 30 percent since 1981 and by 18 percent since 1990. In 2004, premature births accounted for 12.8 percent of live births nationwide.

Premature births, he says, account for one-third of infant deaths in the United States, making it the leading cause of neonatal mortality. Being born too early can also lead to chronic health problems such as blindness, deafness, cerebral palsy, low IQ and more.

Phthalates are commonly used compounds in plastics, personal care products, home furnishings (vinyl flooring, carpeting, paints, etc.) and many other consumer and industrial products. The toxicity varies by specific phthalates or their breakdown products, but past studies show that several phthalates cause reproductive and developmental toxicity in animals.

A couple of human studies have reported associations between phthalates and gestational age, but this is the first known study to look at the relationship between phthalates and premature births, Meeker says.

“We looked at these commonly used compounds found in consumer products based on the growing amount of animal toxicity data and since national human data show that a large proportion of the population are unknowingly exposed,” Meeker said. “One of the problems for consumers is that you don’t know exactly which products contain phthalates because the products do not have to be labeled accordingly.”

Meeker says the U-M study is a stepping stone to larger and more detailed studies examining the role of phthalates and premature births. The researchers hope to examine a larger population of pregnant women to corroborate these initial study findings, and conduct experimental lab studies to further explore the biological mechanisms of how phthalates work in the body.

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The study, “Urinary Phthalate Metabolites in Relation to Preterm Birth in Mexico City,” is available online at: http://www.ehponline.org/docs/2009/0800522/abstract.html. It will appear in a later printed issue of Environmental Health Perspectives.

For more on Meeker: http://www.sph.umich.edu/iscr/faculty/profile.cfm?uniqname=meekerj

Loch-Caruso: http://www.sph.umich.edu/iscr/faculty/profile.cfm?uniqname=rlc

Hu: http://www.sph.umich.edu/iscr/faculty/profile.cfm?uniqname=howardhu

EHS: http://www.sph.umich.edu/ehs/

The University of Michigan School of Public Health has been working to promote health and prevent disease since 1941, and is consistently ranked among the top five public health schools in the nation

Cochrane Review finds no benefit from routine health checks

Contact: Jennifer Beal sciencenewsroom@wiley.com 44-012-437-70633 Wiley

Carrying out general health checks does not reduce deaths overall or from serious diseases like cancer and heart disease, according to Cochrane researchers. The researchers, who carried out a systematic review on the subject for The Cochrane Library, warn against offering general health checks as part of a public health programme.

In some countries, general health checks are offered as part of standard practice. General health checks are intended to reduce deaths and ill health by enabling early detection and treatment of disease. However, there are potential negative implications, for example diagnosis and treatment of conditions that might never have led to any symptoms of disease or shortened life.

The researchers based their findings on 14 trials involving 182,880 people. All trials divided participants into at least two groups: one where participants were invited to general health checks and another where they were not. The number of new diagnoses was generally poorly studied, but in one trial, health checks led to more diagnoses of all kinds. In another trial, people in the group invited to general health checks were more likely to be diagnosed with high blood pressure or high cholesterol, as might be expected. In three trials, large numbers of abnormalities were identified in the screened groups.

However, based on nine trials with a total of 11,940 deaths, the researchers found no difference between the number of deaths in the two groups in the long term, either overall or specifically due to cancer or heart disease. Other outcomes were poorly studied, but suggested that offering general health checks has no impact on hospital admissions, disability, worry, specialist referrals, additional visits to doctors or time off work.

“From the evidence we’ve seen, inviting patients to general health checks is unlikely to be beneficial,” said lead researcher Lasse Krogsbøll of The Nordic Cochrane Centre in Copenhagen, Denmark. “One reason for this might be that doctors identify additional problems and take action when they see patients for other reasons.”

“What we’re not saying is that doctors should stop carrying out tests or offering treatment when they suspect there may be a problem. But we do think that public healthcare initiatives that are systematically offering general health checks should be resisted.”

According to the review, new studies should be focused on the individual components of health checks and better targeting of conditions such as kidney disease and diabetes. They should be designed to further explore the harmful effects of general health checks, which are often ignored, producing misleading conclusions about the balance of benefits and harm. Another problem is that those people who attend health checks when invited may be different to those who do not. People who are at a high risk of serious illness may be less likely to attend.

Calcium during pregnancy reduces harmful blood lead levels: 1200mg –>31% Reduction

Contact: Laura Bailey baileylm@umich.edu 734-764-1552 University of Michigan

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Pregnant women who take high levels of daily calcium supplements show a marked reduction in lead levels in their blood, suggesting calcium could play a critical role in reducing fetal and infant exposure.

A new study at the University of Michigan shows that women who take 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily have up to a 31 percent reduction in lead levels.

Women who used lead-glazed ceramics and those with high bone lead levels showed the largest reductions; the average reduction was about 11 percent, said Howard Hu, chair of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the School of Public Health.

Hu is the principal investigator of the study and one of the senior authors on the paper, which is available online in Environmental Health Perspectives, the official journal of the U.S. National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences. Hu, who is also affiliated with the University of Michigan School of Medicine, said this is the first known randomized study examining calcium supplementation on lead levels in pregnant women.

“We and others have previously shown that during pregnancy, mothers can transfer lead from their bones to their unborn — with significant adverse consequences–making maternal bone lead stores a threat even if current environmental lead exposures are low,” Hu said.  “This study demonstrates that dietary calcium supplementation during pregnancy may constitute a low-cost and low-risk approach for reducing this threat.”

Lead exposure is a great concern for pregnant and lactating women, especially in developing countries where lead exposures have been high until recently, and for women with occupational exposure. Developing fetuses and nursing babies are exposed to lead from either current exposures to mothers or from the mobilization of maternal skeletal lead stores accumulated from prior years of exposure. Bone lead can stay in the body for decades, so even with minimal environmental exposure, the fetus or nursing infant can still be at great risk from maternal stores of lead.

Lead exposure during fetal development and infancy can cause low birth weight or slow weight gain after birth, cognitive defects such as lower intelligence scores, lower motor and visual skills, or even miscarriage. Damage from lead exposure and poisoning is usually permanent.

“The bottom line is that obstetricians and pediatricians should consider adding calcium supplementation to the prenatal vitamins normally recommended in pregnant women, particularly if their patients have a significant history of environmental or occupational lead exposure,” Hu said.

The study showed that reductions in blood lead levels were more evident in the second trimester at 14 percent than in the third trimester at 8 percent. The most compliant group of women in the study (those who consumed greater than 75 percent of the assigned 1,200 milligram doses of calcium per day) showed a 24 percent decrease.  Women in the most compliant group who also reported using lead glazed ceramics and had the highest bone lead levels saw the greatest reduction of 31 percent.

Researchers analyzed 557 women recruited from the Mexican Social Security Institute prenatal clinics, which treat the low to moderate income population of Mexico City. All were in their first trimester; roughly half were assigned calcium and half a placebo.

This recent study corresponds with a previous study performed by the same group of investigators showing that 1,200-milligram daily calcium supplementation during lactation reduced maternal blood lead by 15-20 percent, and breast milk lead by 5-10 percent. This is the first randomized trial to evaluate the effect of supplementation during pregnancy, when lead is more easily transferred to the fetus, Hu said.

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Co-authors and affiliations include: Adrienne S. Ettinger,  Harvard School of Public Health and U-M SPH; Héctor Lamadrid-Figueroa, Martha M. Téllez-Rojo, and Adriana Mercado- García, Mexican National Institute of Public Health; Karen E. Peterson, Harvard SPH and U-M SPH; Joel Schwartz, Harvard SPH;  Mauricio Hernández-Avila, Mexican National Institute of Public Health and Mexican Ministry of Health

The study is available at: http://www.ehponline.org/docs/2008/11868/abstract.html

For more on Hu, visit: http://www.ns.umich.edu/htdocs/public/experts/ExpDisplay.php?ExpID=1188http://www.sph.umich.edu/iscr/faculty/profile.cfm?uniqname=howardhu

For more on the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at U-M SPH, see: http://www.sph.umich.edu/ehs/

The University of  Michigan  School of Public Health has been promoting health and preventing  disease since 1941, and is consistently ranked among the nation’s top five public health schools.  Faculty and students in the school’s five academic departments and dozens of collaborative centers and initiatives study and solve problems relating to chronic disease, health care quality and finance, emerging genetic technologies, climate change, socioeconomic inequalities and their impact on health, infectious disease, the globalization of health, and more. Whether making new discoveries in the lab or researching and educating in the field, our faculty, students, and alumni are deployed around the globe to promote and protect our health.  See:http://www.sph.umich.edu/

Suicide, Not Car Crashes, #1 Cause of Injury Death

By
WebMD Health News

Sept. 20, 2012 — Suicide has overtaken car crashes as the leading cause of injury-related deaths in the U.S.

While public health efforts have curbed the number of car fatalities by 25% over the last decade, a new study shows suicide deaths rose by 15% during the same period.

In addition, deaths from unintentional poisoning and falls have also increased dramatically in recent years.

Researchers found deaths caused by accidental poisoning and falls increased by 128% and 71%, respectively.

“Comprehensive and sustained traffic safety measures have apparently substantially diminished the motor vehicle traffic mortality rate, and similar attention and resources are needed to reduce the burden of other injury,” researcher Ian Rockett, PhD, MPH of West Virginia University and colleagues write in the American Journal of Public Health.

Causes of Death Evolving

In the study, researchers looked at cause of death data from the National Center for Health Statistics from 2000 to 2009.

“Contrasting with disease mortality, the injury mortality rate trended upward during most of that decade,” write the researchers.

The top five leading causes of injury-related deaths were:

  1. Suicide
  2. Motor vehicle crashes
  3. Poisoning
  4. Falls
  5. Homicide

Researchers say the findings demonstrate that suicide is now a global public health issue.

“Our finding that suicide now accounts for more deaths than do traffic crashes echoes similar findings for the European Union, Canada, and China,” they write.

Researchers say deaths from unintentional poisoning rose, in part, because of a sharp rise in prescription drug overdoses.

For example, drug overdoses accounted for 75% of unintentional poisoning deaths in 2008, with prescription drugs accounting for 74% of those overdoses.

The study also showed that women had a lower injury-related death rate than men. Blacks and Hispanics had a lower rate of car fatalities and suicides, and a higher rate of homicides than whites.

http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/news/20120920/suicide-top-cause-of-injury-death

UNC researchers find MSG use linked to obesity

Re-Post 2008 for Filing
Contact: Patric Lane
patric_lane@unc.edu
919-962-8596
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

CHAPEL HILL – People who use monosodium glutamate, or MSG, as a flavor enhancer in their food are more likely than people who don’t use it to be overweight or obese even though they have the same amount of physical activity and total calorie intake, according to a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health study published this month in the journal Obesity.

Researchers at UNC and in China studied more than 750 Chinese men and women, aged between 40 and 59, in three rural villages in north and south China. The majority of study participants prepared their meals at home without commercially processed foods. About 82 percent of the participants used MSG in their food. Those users were divided into three groups, based on the amount of MSG they used. The third who used the most MSG were nearly three times more likely to be overweight than non-users.

“Animal studies have indicated for years that MSG might be associated with weight gain,” said Ka He, M.D., assistant professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the UNC School of Public Health. “Ours is the first study to show a link between MSG use and weight in humans.”

Because MSG is used as a flavor enhancer in many processed foods, studying its potential effect on humans has been difficult. He and his colleagues chose study participants living in rural Chinese villages because they used very little commercially processed food, but many regularly used MSG in food preparation.

“We found that prevalence of overweight was significantly higher in MSG users than in non-users,” He said. “We saw this risk even when we controlled for physical activity, total calorie intake and other possible explanations for the difference in body mass. The positive associations between MSG intake and overweight were consistent with data from animal studies.”

As the percentage of overweight and obese people around the world continues to increase, He said, finding clues to the cause could be very important.

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other health organizations around the world have concluded that MSG is safe,” He said, “but the question remains – is it healthy?”

 

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Co-authors on the study included Liancheng Zhao and colleagues from Fu Wai Hospital and Cardiovascular Institute at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences in Beijing. Other researchers on this study were from Northwestern University in Chicago and the INTERMAP Cooperative Research Group.

The study is available online at: http://www.nature.com/oby/journal/v16/n8/full/oby2008274a.html

Note: He can be reached at (919) 843-2476 or kahe@unc.edu.

School of Public Health contact: Ramona DuBose, (919) 966-7467, ramona_dubose@unc.edu
News Services contact: Patric Lane, (919) 962-8596, patric_lane@unc.edu

100 percent of people carry at least 1 type of pesticide

Contact: Juan Pedro Arrebola Moreno juanpe000@hotmail.com 34-636-380-300 University of Granada

This release is available in Spanish.

A study carried out by researchers from the Department of Radiology and Physical Medicine of the University of Granada, in collaboration with the Andalusian School of Public Health (Escuela Andaluza de Salud Pública), found that 100% of Spaniards analyzed had at least one kind of persistent organic compound (POC´s), substances internationally classified as potentially harmful to one’s health, in their bodies. These substances enter the body trough food, water or even air. All of them tend to accumulate in human adipose tissue and easily enter into the organism through the aforementioned mediums.

The study, conceived by Juan Pedro Arrebola Moreno and directed by professors Piedad Martín Olmedo, Nicolás Olea Serrano and Mariana F. Fernández Cabrera, measured the contamination levels of some persistent organic compounds (POC’s) in a sample of the adult population from two areas, an urban one (Granada capital city) and a semi-rural one (Motril), and intended to find the determining factors associated with such levels: diet, lifestyle, activities or residence.

A total of 387 adults, from both sexes, were volunteers for surgeries in hospitals taking part in the study (Santa Ana de Motril and San Cecilio de Granada Hospitals). Once the volunteers had given consent, a sample of their human adipose tissue (fat) was taken during surgery and they answered a questionnaire about their place of residence, lifestyle, eating habits and activities throughout their life.

Analysis of 6 POC´s

The researchers analyzed the samples and measured 6 different POC concentration levels: DDE, a principal metabolite in DDT (a pesticide used in Spain until the 80´s); hexachlorobenzene, a compound used as fungicide and currently released by industrial processes; PCB’s: compounds related to industrial processes; and Hexaclorociclohexano, used as an insecticide and currently used in scabies and pediculosis treatment.

The study carried out by the University of Granada concluded that 100% of subjects analyzed had DDE in their bodies, a substance banned in Spain, and other very frequent components such as PCB-153 (present in 92% of people), HCB (91%), PCB-180 (90%), PCB-138 (86%9) and HCH (84%).

Juan Pedro Arrebola Moreno explains that higher levels of toxic substances were detected in women compared to men and in older volunteers compared to younger people, “possibly due to the great persistence of these substances in the environment, which results in their biomagnification in the food chain and in their bioaccumulation over time”. The scientist added that there is another theory known as “Efecto Cohorte” (Cohort effect) that explains the high quantities of these substances in older people. According to this theory, those born in periods of higher contamination suffered the consequences more than those born with the current bans on such pesticides.

The impact of diet

This study indicates that diet is an important factor in POC concentration, as the ingestion of some aliments, particularly those of animal origin and high fat content, triggers a greater presence of these toxic substances in the human organism.

Juan Pedro Arrebola Moreno states, “There are few studies in Spain measuring POC levels in wide samples of the population, which means that some compound levels in the general population are unknown”. Consequently, this study will improve the knowledge of such levels, and will identify those groups at higher risk of exposure, which is the first step for subsequent follow-up studies determining the cause-effect relations.

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This study is part of a project subsidized by the FIS (Sanitarian Investigation Fund) and by the Andalusian Regional Government, and in which the University of Granada, the Andalusian School of Public Health, and the Santa Ana de Motril and San Cecilio de Granada Hospitals take part.

Reference

Juan Pedro Arrebola Moreno. Department of Radiology and Physical Medicine of the University of Granada. Tfn: +34 958 242864. Mobile phone: +34 636 380 300 Email address: juanpe000@hotmail.com

Accessible on Science News – UGR

* Reposted For Filing

Environmental toxicants causing ovarian disease across generations

Contact: Michael Skinner skinner@wsu.edu 509-335-1524 Washington State University

WSU researchers expand research on environmental epigenetics and ovarian disease

PULLMAN, Wash.—Washington State University researchers have found that ovarian disease can result from exposures to a wide range of environmental chemicals and be inherited by future generations.

WSU reproductive biologist Michael Skinner and his laboratory colleagues looked at how a fungicide, pesticide, plastic, dioxin and hydrocarbon mixtures affected a gestating rat’s progeny for multiple generations.   They saw subsequent generations inherit ovarian disease by “epigenetic transgenerational inheritance.” Epigenetics regulates how genes are turned on and off in tissues and cells. Three generations were affected, showing fewer ovarian follicles—the source of eggs—and increased polycystic ovarian disease.

The findings suggest ancestral environmental exposures and epigenetics may be a significant added factor in the development of ovarian disease, says Skinner.

“What your great grandmother was exposed to when she was pregnant may promote ovarian disease in you and you’re going to pass it on to your grandchildren,” he says.  “Ovarian disease has been increasing over the past few decades to effect more than 10 percent of the human female population and environmental epigenetics may provide a reason for this increase.”

The research appears in the current issue of the online journal PLoS ONE. It marks the first time researchers have shown that a number of different classes of environmental toxicants can promote the epigenetic inheritance of ovarian disease across multiple generations.

Research by Skinner and colleagues published earlier this year in PLoS ONE showed jet fuel, dioxin, plastics, and the pesticides DEET and permethrin can also promote epigenetic inheritance of disease in young adults across generations.

The work is a departure from traditional studies on several fronts. Where most genetic work looks at genes as the ultimate arbiters of inheritance, Skinner’s lab has repeatedly shown the impact of the environmental epigenetics on how those genes are regulated.  The field is already changing how one might look at toxicology, public health and biology in general.

The new study, says Skinner, provides a proof of concept that ancestral environmental exposures and environmental epigenetics promote ovarian disease and can be used to further diagnose exposure to toxicants and their subsequent health impacts. It also opens the door to using epigenetic molecular markers to diagnose ovarian disease before it occurs so new therapies could be developed.

In a broader sense, the study shows how epigenetics can have a significant role in disease development and life itself.

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The paper, “Environmentally Induced Epigenetic Transgenerational Inheritance of Ovarian Disease,” can be viewed at http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0036129

Vaccine tied to ‘superbug’ ear infection – Old Prevnar 2007 Historical Only

*Requested Repost From 2007 – Info is Historical

 

A vaccine that has dramatically curbed pneumonia and other serious illnesses in children is also having an unfortunate effect: promoting new superbugs that cause ear infections

On Monday, doctors reported discovering the first such germ that is resistant to all drugs approved to treat childhood ear infections. Nine toddlers in Rochester, N.Y., have had the bug and researchers say it may be turning up elsewhere, too.

Wyeth anticipated this and is testing a second-generation vaccine. But it is at least two years from reaching the market, and the new strains could become a public health problem in the meantime if they spread hard-to-treat infections through day care centers and schools.

It is a strain of strep bacteria not included in the pneumococcal vaccine, Wyeth’s Prevnar, which came on the market in 2000. It is recommended for children under age 2.

Prevnar, however, is losing its punch because strains not covered by the vaccine are filling the biological niche that the vaccine strains used to occupy, and they are causing disease.

One strain in particular, called 19A, is big trouble. A new subtype of it caused ear infections in the nine Rochester children, ages 6 months to 18 months, that were resistant to all pediatric medications, said Dr. Michael Pichichero, a microbiologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

The children had been unsuccessfully treated with two or more antibiotics, including high-dose amoxicillin and multiple shots of another drug. Many needed surgery to place ear tubes to drain the infection, and some recovered only after treatment with a newer, powerful antibiotic whose safety in children has not been established.

–Scientists from a drug company and two labs analyzed more than 21,000 bacterial samples from around the nation and found 19A increasing. Among children 2 and under, the portion of samples that were this strain rose to 15 percent in 2005-2006, from 4 percent in the previous three years.

–A British lab tracking respiratory infections in U.S. kids found that the 19A strain accounted for 40 percent of drug-resistant cases.

–University of Iowa researchers found 19A accounted for 35 percent of penicillin-resistant infections in 2004-05, compared with less than 2 percent the year before the new vaccine came out.

BPA link to narrowing of the arteries

A research team from the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry (PCMD), University of Exeter, and University of Cambridge has for the first time established a link between high levels of urinary Bisphenol-A (BPA) and severe coronary artery stenosis (narrowing of the arteries).

The study is published in PLoS ONE today, 15th August 2012.

The team analysed data from 591 patients who participated in the Metabonomics and Genomics Coronary Artery Disease (MaGiCAD) study in Cambridgeshire, UK. They compared urinary BPA with grades of severity of coronary artery disease (CAD).

The patients were classified into severe, intermediate or normal CAD categories based on narrowing of their coronary arteries measured using a technique called angiography, which is considered the gold standard method of diagnosis. In all, 385 patients were identified to have severe CAD, 86 intermediate CAD and 120 had normal coronary arteries.

The study shows that urinary BPA concentration was significantly higher in those with severe CAD compared to those with normal coronary arteries.

The results are important because they suggest that associations between urinary BPA and CAD may be specific to narrowing of the arteries.

This is the fourth study led by PCMD, University of Exeter to identify a statistical link between increased levels of urinary BPA and cardiovascular disease.

Other studies related to BPA carried out by the same research team have found associations with altered testosterone and changes in the expression of BPA target genes in men, suggesting that BPA may be more active in the body than previously thought.

The research team was led by Professor David Melzer, Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at PCMD, University of Exeter. He said: “Our latest study strengthens a growing body of work that suggests that BPA may be adding to known risk factors for heart disease. Full proof will be very difficult to get, as experiments on this in humans are not feasible.”

Professor Tamara Galloway, lead toxicologist on the study from University of Exeter, said: “These results are important because they give us a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying the association between BPA and heart disease.”

Dr. David Mosedale, Chairman of the MaGiCAD Management Committee, added: “This demonstrates the utility of intensively characterised cohorts like MaGiCAD, and highlights the need for further research into the long-term effects of common environmental chemicals such as BPA.”

BPA is a controversial chemical commonly used in food and drink containers. It has previously caused concerns over health risks to babies, as it is present in some baby’s bottles. Following a PCMD study in September 2008 many nations moved to ban BPA from the manufacture of baby’s bottles and other feeding equipment.

BPA is used in polycarbonate plastic products such as refillable drinks containers, compact disks, some plastic eating utensils and many other products in everyday use. It is one of the world’s highest production volume chemicals, with 5.16 million tonnes produced in 2008 (source: Chemical Weekly 2009).

Researchers find MSG use linked to obesity

CHAPEL HILL – People who use monosodium glutamate, or MSG, as a flavor enhancer

in their food are more likely than people who don’t use it to be overweight or obese even

though they have the same amount of physical activity and total calorie intake, according

to a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health study published

this month in the journal Obesity.

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Researchers at UNC and in China studied more than 750 Chinese men and women, aged

between 40 and 59, in three rural villages in north and south China. The majority of study

participants prepared their meals at home without commercially processed foods. About

82 percent of the participants used MSG in their food. Those users were divided into

three groups, based on the amount of MSG they used. The third who used the most MSG

were nearly three times more likely to be overweight than non-users

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“Animal studies have indicated for years that MSG might be associated with weight

gain,” said Ka He, M.D., assistant professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the UNC

School of Public Health. “Ours is the first study to show a link between MSG use and

weight in humans.”

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Because MSG is used as a flavor enhancer in many processed foods, studying its

potential effect on humans has been difficult. He and his colleagues chose study

participants living in rural Chinese villages because they used very little commercially

processed food, but many regularly used MSG in food preparation.

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“We found that prevalence of overweight was significantly higher in MSG users

than in non-users,” He said. “We saw this risk even when we controlled for physical

activity, total calorie intake and other possible explanations for the difference in

body mass. The positive associations between MSG intake and overweight were

consistent with data from animal studies.”

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As the percentage of overweight and obese people around the world continues to

increase, He said, finding clues to the cause could be very important.

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other health organizations around

the world have concluded that MSG is safe,” He said, “but the question remains – is

it healthy?”

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Evil: FDA as well as others refuse to investigate the science, exposing the world to an Obesity Epidemic