I Wish I Were Far From the Madding Crowd

April 2, 2010

Metabolic syndrome and exposure to persistent organic pollutants

Take a spoonful of sugar, add a pinch of chemicals that accumulate in fatty tissue, and voila, metabolic syndrome! So while Dr. Lustig may be on to something, it looks like fructose might not be the only thing to blame for the obesity epidemic.

The reason why persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are a problem is that they can bioaccumulate in fatty tissue.  (If fructose causes metabolic syndrome as Dr. Lustig says, and metabolic syndrome results in increased obesity, which in turn means more fatty tissue, and more fatty tissue can absorb more POPs, we would seem to have started a rather vicious cycle.)

The Editor’s Summary explains why the findings of this study are especially important (emphasis added).

The authors conclude that exposure to POPs through a diet high in fatty fish is capable of inducing insulin resistance and impairing both lipid and glucose metabolism. Furthermore, they found that n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids failed to counteract the harmful metabolic effects of dietary POP exposure. This finding is important because the presence of n-3-polyunsaturated fatty acids in fish oil has been reported to have a wide range of beneficial effects, including protection against high-fat diet–induced insulin resistance. The authors conclude that there is a need to continue efforts to limit human exposure to dietary POPs even in foods containing protective factors such as polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Persistent Organic Pollutant Exposure Leads to Insulin Resistance Syndrome, Jérôme Ruzzin et al. Environmental Health Perspectives, 118(4) Apr 2010.

Related EHP news item:

Chew on This: Persistent Organic Pollutants May Promote Insulin Resistance Syndrome

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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