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Friday
Apr222016

Pregnant women in Brooklyn have highest levels of parabens

The results were published online in the journal Environment International, in an article titled, "Maternal and fetal exposure to parabens in a multiethnic urban U.S. population."

Parabens have been widely used in cosmetics and foods for decades, but in recent years have been found to disrupt the expression of hormones during influential times of development, possibly affecting fetal, child, and even adult health. The authors point out that recent studies have raised awareness for potential health effects, particularly during fetal development and in children younger than six to 12 months of age, a period when detoxification systems are still immature, "and thus leaving the exposed more vulnerable," notes senior author Rolf Halden, PhD, professor and director of the Biodesign Center for Environmental Security at Arizona State University.

Article co-author Laura A. Geer, PhD, MHS, associate professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences in the School of Public Health at SUNY Downstate, said:

"What we know from the study is that parabens are being transferred from pregnant women to their fetuses. This is problematic because parabens have demonstrated endocrine-disrupting potential in animal studies, leading to developmental and reproductive disorders. It is too early to know if these same effects can occur in humans, and if so, at what levels of exposure."

She adds, "I would not characterize these findings as alarming, but rather of concern, since we do not have relevant regulatory limits for these substances. The European Union countries set limits by volume per product, a good starting point. Limiting exposure to these substances is complicated because of their ubiquity in personal care and consumer products. Higher exposure levels in more vulnerable populations, such as in our study, gives further justification for us to answer the questions of what higher levels mean for health."

In a follow-up study, the authors are examining possible impacts on birth outcomes; results are forthcoming.

Source

Wednesday
Apr202016

Monsanto Chemical May Lead to Weight Gain

A New study by researchers at the University of Georgia says that exposure to a chemical manufactured by Monsanto called benzyl butyl phthalate may cause cells store more fat. 

"Phthalate exposure can be closely associated with the rise of different types of disease development," said the study's lead author Lei Yin, an assistant research scientist in the UGA College of Public Health's department of environmental health science.

Because levels of phthalates were found in human fluids in previous studies, the researchers wanted to see if a specific phthalate, benzyl butyl phthalate, or BBP, manufactured by Monsanto (source) had an effect on the accumulation of fat in cells. Their findings were published in the journal Toxicology in Vitro.

Benzyl butyl phthalate is used in the manufacturing of vinyl tile and can also be found as a plasticizer in polyvinyl chloride (PVC). It is used in the manufacturing of conveyor belts, carpet, weather stripping and more. When BBP is added during the manufacturing of a product, it is not bound to the final product.  However, through the use and disposal of the product, BBP can be released into the environment.  BBP can be deposited on and taken up by crops for human and livestock consumption, resulting in its entry into the food chain. The biggest source of exposure to BBP is through foods. (Source)

The researchers used mouse cells to analyze how exposure to BBP affected the way oils and fats, known as lipids, accumulated within the cells.

"Obesity is one of the big issues in humans now, and of course genetic components can contribute to the development of obesity," said study co-author Xiaozhong "John" Yu, an assistant professor of environmental health science. "However, environmental exposure may also contribute to obesity."

Some phthalates have proven to cause reproductive toxicity at high levels of exposure, but the link between low-level exposure and BBP hadn't yet been thoroughly explored, Yin explained.

"It could be that some chemicals at a very low dose and over a long period time, which is known as chronic exposure, can cause more harmful diseases or effects," she said.

The researchers quantified lipid droplet accumulation using traditional staining approaches, in which the cells are stained and therefore can be visually assessed under a microscope, and a newer approach called cellomics high-content analysis. This high-content screening uses "image processing algorithms, computer machine learning and can measure the multiple parameters in a fast and objective way," Yin said.

The results of BBP's effects were compared with bisphenol A, or BPA, an environmental endocrine disruptor that is known for its role in adipogenesis, or how fat cells develop.

BBP caused a response in the cells that is similar to BPA: Both chemicals prompt the accumulation of lipid droplets. However, the droplets from BBP-treated cells were larger, something that suggests BBP exposure may lead to obesity.

Although the findings cannot be directly generalized to the human population--Yu notes the cells used were mouse cells and a "human is not a big mouse"--they do give an indication of a possible link between exposure to BBP and obesity, something that could affect human health.

Calling obesity research a very exciting area to be studying, Yin said she would like to explore the relationships between other environmental chemicals and obesity in future studies. She is also interested in learning if certain plant-based chemicals could counterbalance the negative effects of exposure to more harmful chemicals.

(Source

Wednesday
Apr132016

FTC Charges Cosmetic Companies Over "Natural" Claims

Four companies that market skin care products, shampoos, and sunscreens online have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they falsely claimed that their products are “all natural” or “100% natural,” despite the fact that they contain synthetic ingredients. The Commission has issued a complaint against a fifth company for making similar claims.

Under the proposed settlements, each of the four companies is barred from making similar misrepresentations in the future and must have competent and reliable evidence to substantiate any ingredient-related, environmental, or health claims it makes.

“‘All natural’ or ‘100 percent natural’ means just that -- no artificial ingredients or chemicals,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Companies should take a lesson from these cases.”

According to the FTC, each of the following companies made the all-natural claim in online ads:

  • Trans-India Products, Inc., doing business as ShiKai, based in Santa Rosa, California, markets “All Natural Hand and Body Lotion” and “All Natural Moisturizing Gel” both directly and through third-party websites including walgreens.com and vitacoast.com. The lotion contains Dimethicone, Ethyhexyl Glycerin, and Phenoxyethanol. The gel contains Phenoxyethanol.
  • ABS Consumer Products, LLC, doing business as EDEN BodyWorks, based in Memphis, Tennessee, markets haircare products on its own websites and at Walmart.com. It makes “all natural” claims for products including “Coconut Shea All Natural Styling Elixer” and “Jojoba Monoi All Natural Shampoo.” In reality, the products contain a range of synthetic ingredients such as Polyquaternium-37, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, and Polyquaternium-7.
  • Beyond Coastal, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, uses its website to sell its “Natural Sunscreen SPF 30,” describing it as “100% natural.” However, it also contains Dimethicone.
  • California Naturel, Inc., located in Sausalito, California, sells supposedly “all natural sunscreen” on its website, though the product contains Dimethicone. The Commission has issued a complaint alleging that California Naturel has made deceptive “all natural” claims in violation of Sections 5 and 12 of the FTC Act.

The proposed consent orders bar the four settling respondents from misrepresenting the following when advertising, promoting, or selling a product: 1) whether the product is all natural or 100 percent natural; 2) the extent to which the product contains any natural or synthetic components; 3) the ingredients or composition of a product; and 4) the environmental or health benefits of a product.

The orders require the respondents to have and rely on competent and reliable evidence to support any product claims they make. Some claims require scientific evidence, which is defined as tests, analyses, research, or studies that have been conducted and evaluated objectively by qualified individuals using procedures generally accepted in the profession to yield accurate and reliable results.

Source

 

Friday
Apr082016

Parabens Found in Marine Life

Parabens, a cosmetic and food preservative shown to cause hormone disruption in numerous studies, are showing up in the tissues of marine mammals, including dolphins, sea otters and polar bears, according to a study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

A redent analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that most people whom they tested had detectable levels of parabens in their urine. As products containing these preservatives wash into the sewage system, they can be released into the environment. 

The researchers analyzed 121 tissue samples from eight species of marine mammals from the coastal waters of Florida, California, Washington and Alaska. They detected methyl paraben in many of the samples. A metabolite of methyl paraben called 4-hydroxybenzoic acid (4-HB) was in every sample. The levels ranged from trace amounts of methyl paraben in polar bears to tens of thousands of nanograms of 4-HB per gram of tissue in some dolphins and sea otters. The metabolite also occurs naturally in plants, but the scientists say the positive correlation between methyl paraben and 4-HB in samples suggests they come from synthetic sources. They add that further research is needed to determine what potential health risks these substances might pose to marine animals.

Source

Sunday
Apr032016

Study: Parabens May be More Harmful than Previously Thought

The commonly-used class of cosmetic preservatives called parabens may be more harmful than researchers previously thought. The findings, published online October 27 2015 in Environmental Health Perspectives, could have implications for the development of breast cancer and other diseases that are influenced by estrogens. The study also raises questions about current safety testing methods that may not predict the true potency of parabens and their effects on human health.

Parabens activate the same estrogen receptor as the natural hormone estradiol. Studies have linked exposure to estradiol and related estrogens with an increased risk of breast cancer, as well as reproductive problems.

"Although parabens are known to mimic the growth effects of estrogens on breast cancer cells, some consider their effect too weak to cause harm," says lead investigator Dale Leitman, a gynecologist and molecular biologist at University California, Berkeley. "But this might not be true when parabens are combined with other agents that regulate cell growth."

However, existing chemical safety tests, which measure the effects of chemicals on human cells, look only at parabens in isolation and fail to take into account that parabens could interact with other types of signaling molecules in the cells to increase breast cancer risk.

"Scientists and regulators are using potency estimates from these kinds of tests and are assuming they are relevant to what goes on in real life. But if you don't design the right test, you can be off by a lot," says co-author Ruthann Rudel, a toxicologist at Silent Spring Institute.

To better reflect what goes on in real life, the researchers looked at breast cancer cells expressing two types of receptors: estrogen receptors and HER2. Approximately 25 percent of breast cancers produce an abundance of HER2, or human epidermal growth factor receptor 2. HER2-positive tumors tend to grow and spread more aggressively than other types of breast cancer.

The researchers activated the HER2 receptors in breast cancer cells with a growth factor called heregulin that is naturally made in breast cells, while exposing the cells to parabens. Not only did the parabens trigger the estrogen receptors by turning on genes that caused the cells to proliferate, the effect was significant: The parabens in the HER2-activated cells were able to stimulate breast cancer cell growth at concentrations 100 times lower than in cells that were deprived of heregulin.

The study demonstrates that parabens may be more potent at lower doses than previous studies have suggested, which may spur scientists and regulators to rethink the potential impacts of parabens on the development of breast cancer, particularly on HER2 and estrogen receptor positive breast cells.

"While this study focused on parabens, it's also possible that the potency of other estrogen mimics have been underestimated by current testing approaches," says co-author Chris Vulpe, a toxicologist who is now at the Center for Environmental and Human Toxicology at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine.

Since people come into contact with multiple chemicals every day through consumer products, understanding how mixtures of hormone-mimicking chemicals and growth factors interact to promote cell growth might better reflect a person's potential cancer risk from exposure. In particular, one area of increasing concern is how exposure to multiple chemicals during critical periods of development including puberty and pregnancy increases a person's susceptibility to breast cancer later in life.

(Source