I Wish I Were Far From the Madding Crowd

April 11, 2010

Some Breast Cancer Cases Caused by a Virus?

It looks like the answer could very well be yes.

The Pink Virus Project

See Dr. Ruddy’s latest post describing her long history in this area.

“Breakthroughs Around the Globe”

Approximately 40% of human breast cancers contain gene sequences that are remarkably similar to a retrovirus known to cause breast cancer in domestic mice. Furthermore, the highest incidence of human breast cancer worldwide occurs in geographic locations where the domestic mouse is native or introduced to the area.

The book, The Pink Virus: Does a Virus Cause Breast Cancer in Women?

Presentation by Dr. Ruddy on The Pink Virus

Summary of Research

http://breastcancerbydrruddy.com/2009/11/01/the-pink-virus-2/

Brief Report on the Pink Virus Breast Cancer Summit

http://www.breasthealthandhealing.com/socialnetworking/messages/20091101.html

Cancer-Causing Virus Linked to Breast Cancer – Includes more info on the Pink Virus Project summit.

Brief bibliography on breast cancer and viruses

Articles cited at bottom of page at http://www.breasthealthandhealing.com/socialnetworking/messages/20091001.html

Updated (and more technical) Bibliography of Research on the Mammary Tumor Virus

http://breastcancerbydrruddy.com/2009/11/15/updated-bibliography-of-research-on-the-mammary-tumor-virus/

Breast Health and Healing’s YouTube Channelhttp://www.youtube.com/user/BreastHealthHealing

A New Virus in a Spontaneous Mammary Tumor of a Rhesus Monkey. Harish C. Chopra and Marcus M. Mason.  Cancer Research 30, 2081-2086, August 1, 1970. http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/30/8/2081

Chemical Exposure and Breast Cancer?

The CDC has reported in its Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals that many chemicals are showing up in Americans’ bodies.  (Presence alone does not indicate adverse effects, but as I have blogged about before, exposure during certain windows of development can have long-term effects.)

The Fourth Report includes results for 75 chemicals measured for the first time in the U.S. population.  Among the chemicals: environmental phenols, including bisphenol A and triclosan.  According to the Executive Summary:

  • Bisphenol A (BPA), a component of epoxy resins and polycarbonates, may have potential reproductive toxicity. General population exposure to BPA may occur through ingestion of foods in contact with  BPA-containing materials. CDC scientists found bisphenol A in more than 90% of the urine samples representative of the U.S.population.
  • Polybrominated diphenyl ethers are fire retardants used in certain manufactured products. PBDEs accumulate in the environment and in human fat tissue. One type of polybrominated diphenyl ether,BDE-47, was found in the serum of nearly all of the NHANES participants.

Could women be more vulnerable to a breast cancer virus because of exposure to environmental chemicals (either because the chemicals themselves might contribute, or because they negatively affect the immune system)?  See recent articles at bottom about BPA and phthalates.  See also U.S. News post re what could possibly be one of the more likely sources of BPA exposure—your receipts, not plastic bottles. (Science News itemWarner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry)

Articles Ahead of Print from Environmental Health Perspectives

Bisphenol A (BPA)

“Placental Transfer of Conjugated Bisphenol A and Subsequent Reactivation in the Rat Fetus.” – Online April 9, 2010.

Nishikawa M, Iwano H, Yanagisawa R, Koike N, Inoue H, Yokota H 2010. Placental Transfer of Conjugated Bisphenol A and Subsequent Reactivation in the Rat Fetus. Environ Health Perspect :-. doi:10.1289/ehp.0901575

Urinary, Circulating and Tissue Biomonitoring Studies Indicate Widespread Exposure to Bisphenol A

Laura N. Vandenberg, Ibrahim Chauhoud, Jerrold J. Heindel, Vasantha Padmanabhan, Francisco J.R. Paumgartten, Gilbert Schoenfelder Online 24 Mar 2010 | doi:10.1289/ehp.0901716

Phthalates

Investigation of Relationships between Urinary Biomarkers of Phytoestrogens, Phthalates, and Phenols and Pubertal Stages in Girls

Mary S. Wolff, Susan L. Teitelbaum, Susan M. Pinney, Gayle Windham, Laura Liao, Frank Biro, Lawrence H. Kushi, Chris Erdmann, Robert A. Hiatt, Michael E. Rybak, Antonia M. Calafat Online 22 Mar 2010 | doi:10.1289/ehp.0901690

Articles notes a weak association between exposure and earlier puberty.  In a press release Dr. Wolff noted that though the association is weak, given the widespread exposure the public health implications are actually quite large.

This was a multi-ethnic longitudinal study of 1151 girls from New York City, greater Cincinnati, and northern California who were 6-8 years old at enrollment (2004-2007).  Measurements were done one year later.

Results: Breast development was present in 30% of girls (ed. note: remember the girls would have been 7-9), and 22% had pubic hair. High-molecular-weight phthalate metabolites were weakly associated with pubic hair development (adjusted PR 0.94 (0.88-1.00), fifth vs first quintile). Small inverse associations were seen for daidzein with breast stage and for triclosan and high-molecular-weight phthalates with pubic hair stage; a positive trend was observed for low-molecular-weight phthalate biomarkers with breast and pubic hair development. Enterolactone attenuated BMI associations with breast development; in the first enterolactone quintile the association of high-BMI with any development was 1.34 (PR, CI 1.23-1.45 versus low-BMI); there was no BMI-association in the fifth, highest quintile of enterolactone.

Conclusions: Weak hormonally active xenobiotic agents investigated in this study had small associations with pubertal development, mainly among those agents detected at highest concentrations.

My point?  There are enough risks for breast cancer from other causes that we do not need to be assaulted by chemicals in our environment.

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March 21, 2010

Sound advice to companies on endocrine disruptors

Found a post on endocrine disruptors that advises companies on steps they should be taking to deal with endocrine disruptors now.  You’re probably thinking what I thought when I first saw the post, “Yeah, right.”

I was pleasantly surprised.  It’s heartening to see an investment manager taking an enlightened  position like this.

The Chemicals That Should Be on Your Radar … but Probably Aren’t

By Richard Liroff – Published February 25, 2010
[This post is a follow up to Liroff’s earlier article “What Does the FDA’s BPA Decision Mean for Companies?” on GreenBiz.com.]

Liroff notes:

As a class, [endocrine disruptors (EDs)] can have profound and unparalleled impacts on families, communities and businesses because of their possible links to learning disabilities, selected cancers, reproductive disorders, diabetes and other health disorders.

Systematically identifying EDs, substituting safer substances and product designs, and reducing exposures promise sizeable payoffs from reduced health care burdens and enhanced employee productivity. Such actions help align consumer-facing companies in particular with consumers’ concerns about involuntary exposures to toxic chemicals in daily living.

Liroff lists several recent developments in public awareness regarding endocrine disruptors, describes what endocrine disruptors are and how they can affect health, and offers the following advice to chemical companies regarding endocrine disruptors:

1. Get educated.

He provides links to European, U.S. EPA, and NIEHS endocrine disruption websites as well as the The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX) list of resources.  (A very nice list!)

2. Make sure corporate science staff stay current.

Why the Adage ‘the Dose Makes the Poison’ Can Be Toxic to Corporate Chemicals Policy

Heed the advice of NIEHS’s Dr. Linda Birnbaum: “[T]he timing, as well as the dose, makes the poison.” The American Chemical Society, in a newly published statement on endocrine disruptors, echoes this view: “A large and growing body of environmental health literature shows that endocrine disrupting substances … do not fit the central tenet of regulatory toxicology, namely, that the ‘dose makes the poison.'”

3. Know the chemicals in your products and supply chain.

4. Take action. Join the leading edge companies who are actively screening their chemical inventories for endocrine disruptors and are taking steps to lower toxicity via safer chemical substitutes or designs….

[A] proactive approach of analysis and substitution, and responding to early warning signals, is more likely to buttress consumer confidence in your brand than defensive posturing that reflexively asserts “more research is needed” or “no cause-effect relationships have been shown.”

Richard A. Liroff, Ph.D., is founder and director of the Investor Environmental Health Network (IEHN). IEHN is a collaboration of investment managers that advocates for safer corporate chemicals policies to grow long-term shareholder value and reduce financial and reputational risks to companies. The business case for corporate safer chemicals policies, a list of shareholder resolutions on safer chemicals policies, and a roster of participants can be found on the IEHN website, www.iehn.org. Disclosure: Liroff serves as Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of The Endocrine Disruption Exchange and served on the priority-setting work group of EPA’s Endocrine Disruption Screening and Testing Advisory Committee.

You say you want an Industrial Revolution (Cradle to Cradle, part 3)

McDonough and Braungart.  Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things.

Remember the assignment McDonough and Braungart gave?  To design a system that creates enormous amounts of waste, lots of pollution, and burying or burning the results?  (Summarized in Nature doesn’t have a design problem. People do.” (Cradle to Cradle, part 2)

To explain how such a system evolved, they summarize the history of the Industrial Revolution, plus consequences of development of new technologies, increase in urbanization, and the design decisions that accumulated over time. Focus on selling the greatest volume of goods to the greatest number of people.  Shift from manual labor to efficient mechanization.  Mass production (for example, of automobiles).

Industry and natural “capital”

Western society had conflicting views of nature.  On the one hand, nature was a source of natural “capital” that seemed practically bottomless, a “mother earth” that was perpetually regenerative and could absorb all things and continue to grow.  On the other hand, it was also viewed a hostile and dangerous, as something to be conquered and tamed.

The Industrial Revolution was linear—making products and getting them to consumers without thinking about much else.  We now have a much different view of the world, one that recognizes that ecosystems are delicate, complex, and interconnected, and more vulnerable than we ever imagined.

The Industrial Revolution brought about many positive changes such as higher standards of living, increased life expectancy, improved medical care, and more widely available education.  However, fundamental flaws in the infrastructure design have resulted in devastating consequences.

The industrial system was designed on a linear, one-way “cradle-to-grave” model.  In such a system resources are extracted to make products which are sold, then eventually disposed of in a landfill or incinerator.  (Resources that are extracted include coal, oil, natural gas, iron, and so on.)

Buyers are called “consumers,” but McDonough and Braungart point out that consumers actually consume very little.  Most things are designed to be thrown away.

But where is “away”?  Of course, “away” does not really exist.  “Away” has gone away.

And we’re not very efficient at using what we do extract.  According to some studies, more than 90% of materials extracted to make durable goods in the U.S. become waste almost immediately.  (And only about 5% of the raw materials involved in the process of making and delivering a product end up in the product.)

It just occurred to me that McDonough and Braungart’s use of the Titanic as a metaphor for our industrial infrastructure may been appropriate in another way.  Did the Titanic sink itself?  No, it hit an iceberg, 90% of which lies below water.  In other words, the waste and trash we see, the 10%, is just the tip of the wasteberg.

McDonough and Braungart note that “built-in obsolescence” is part of the design of many products.  In fact, reflecting on this, I realized that the selling point of some products is their disposability.  That is to say, our desire for convenience has been an important part in developing the linear cradle-to-grave model.  I believe this also drives our approach to many diseases.

Rather than deal with a problem at the source, we look for a silver bullet, or a magic pill of some kind, to get us out of situations.  In some ways, this brings to mind Aron’s discussion of the role of Highly Sensitive Persons in society.  She notes that immigrant societies like those of the U.S., Canada, and Australia tend to value sensitivity (awareness) less than more mature societies.

So we charge blindly forward, expecting to be able to figure out some creative way to get ourselves out of any situation we find ourselves in.  (This is reinforced by the TV shows we watch, where many problems are solved in 30 to 60 minutes.)

In the short term, it’s easier to deal with things after the fact.  Responding comes naturally to us.  To be fair, we need to be able to respond appropriately to all sorts of different situations.  We can’t prepare for every contingency.

But when we’ve gotten to the point where business as usual is slowly killing the planet we should realize that we need to rethink the way we make things.  For example, in a recently published review of the scientific literature on plastics and health risk [1] (press release), Prof. Rolf Halden points out that the 300 million tons of plastics  produced would fill a series of train cars encircling the globe. He notes: “We’re doomed to live with yesterday’s plastic pollution and we are exacerbating the situation with each day of unchanged behavior.”

There is also a growing consensus that plastics and their additives are not always the benign companions we once assumed them to be.  Bisphenol A and phthalates, used in the production of many plastics, are thought to present risks to human health.

In addition, for many years, scientists assumed that polymers like plastics would not be much of a problem in terms of chemical effects.  However, it was discovered that chemicals associated with the production of such polymers such as Teflon® are accumulating in people’s bodies.   So-called perfluorochemicals were listed in the CDC National Exposure Report for the first time.

Future post – More reasons why the old industrial infrastructure’s approach has gotten us where we are.

*********
Halden, R.  “Plastics and Health Risks,” Annual Review of Public Health, Vol. 31: 179-194 (March 2010) – Abstract | Full Text | PDF (183 KB) – full text costs $)

March 19, 2010

Danish report on endocrine disruptors (late 2009)

I’ve been seeing reports about a 326-page Danish Environmental Protection Agency study that “has just been released” about “gender-bending chemicals.”  Was able to track down an Oct. 23, 2009, article on the Telegraph.co.uk site, “Why boys are turning into girls: Gender-bending chemicals are largely exempt from new EU regulations.”  Fairly recent, but not recent recent.  Geoffrey Lean, the Telegraph author, ties the Danish report in with other research to come up with the headline.  He states:

Yet gender-benders are largely exempt from new EU regulations controlling hazardous chemicals. Britain, then under Tony Blair’s premiership, was largely responsible for this – restricting their inclusion in the first draft of the legislation, and then causing even what was included to be watered down. Confidential documents show that it did so after pressure from George W Bush’s administration, which protested that US exports “could be impacted”.

Anyway, managed to track the report down on the Danish Ministry of the Environment site (site in English).

Survey and Health Assessment of the exposure of 2 year-olds to chemical substances in Consumer Products

Survey of Chemical Substances in Consumer Products, 102, 2009

Abstract
Two-year-olds are exposed to many chemical substances in daily life. Furthermore, they are particularly susceptible due to their physical size (large surface area/small volume). The primary focus will be on consumer products, but because the 2 year-old’s exposure to chemical substances involves not only food products but also food contact materials and articles, focus has also been placed on these sources. Exposure from indoor air and dust has also been evaluated based on existing measurements. Several endocrine disruptors were selected and focussed on in the risk assessment. They were selected for their known endocrine disrupting effects in animal studies, and an anticipated exposure of 2 year-old children to these substances through food products, indoor air and dust, or consumer products….

Based on the assumptions made in the report, it can be concluded that:

  • A few exposures to a high content of an endocrine disruptor, such as that of dibutyl phthalate (DBP) in rubber clogs may result in a critical risk for the 2 year-old.
  • The amounts that 2 year-olds absorb, in particular from the phthalate DBP (mostly from foods) and dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs (mostly from foods, and partly from indoor air and dust), constitute a risk for anti-androgen disruptions to the endocrine system.
  • The amounts that 2 year-olds absorb from the parabens propylparaben and butylparaben, in particular, can constitute a risk for oestrogen-like disruptions of the endocrine system. This contribution originates predominantly from cosmetic products such as oil-based creams/moisturising creams/lotions and sunscreen.

More information

Read the publication in HTML:

ContentsThe whole publication in HTML [887 kB] – Publication description (readable colophon) – In PDF-format [1.425 kB]

Chemicals assessed

Cumulative risk assessment of potential endocrine-like substances

March 12, 2010

Children’s health links

Healthy Choices for the Unborn

An appeal to sign petition for Kid-Safe Chemical Act.  (EWG commentary on the bill – includes links to research, testimony, news releases, and news coverage)

Includes info on EWG’s recent study of umbilical cord blood.

  • Minority Cord Blood Report (2009) – EWG found 232 chemicals in the umbilical cord blood of babies from racial and ethnic minority groups.

Among the chemicals (from the report’s Executive Summary):

    • BPA (bisphenol A)
    • Tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA), a fire retardant for circuit boards that interferes with thyroid function and may inhibit the production of T cells the body uses to fight disease, undermining immune defenses against bacteria, viruses and cancer. TBBPA can break down to BPA, and when incinerated it creates brominated dioxins, which are considered likely human carcinogens.
    • Galaxolide and Tonalide, polycyclic musks that are synthetic fragrances in cosmetics, laundry detergent and other scented products and that have been detected in numerous biomonitoring studies of pollution in people and in the aquatic environment.
    • Perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA, or C4), a member of the perfluorocarbon (PFC) chemical family used to make non-stick, grease-, stain- and water-resistant coatings for consumer products, including brands Teflon, Scotchgard and Goretex. The most studied PFCs, the Teflon chemical PFOA and the Scotchgard chemical PFOS, are linked to cancer, birth defects and infertility. PFCs are extremely persistent in the environment. There is almost no toxicological data for PFBA in the public domain.
    • Previously Undetected Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)

Other links related to chemicals and children’s health:

A Wake Up Call For Parents – Includes link to video, “A Wake-Up Story for Parents” from Healthy Child, Healthy World.

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