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.



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.



Sunscreen Ingredients May Harm Sperm

Many ultraviolet (UV)-filtering chemicals commonly used in sunscreens interfere with the function of human sperm cells, and some mimic the effect of the female hormone progesterone, a new study finds. Results of the Danish study will be presented Friday at the Endocrine Society's 98th annual meeting in Boston.

"These results are of concern and might explain in part why unexplained infertility is so prevalent," said the study's senior investigator, Niels Skakkebaek, MD, DMSc, a professor at the University of Copenhagen and a researcher at the Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet.

Although the purpose of the chemical UV filters is to reduce the amount of the sun's UV rays getting through the skin by absorbing UV, some UV filters are rapidly absorbed through the skin, Skakkebaek said. UV filter chemicals reportedly have been found in human blood samples and in 95 percent of urine samples in the U.S., Denmark and other countries.

Skakkebaek and his colleagues tested 29 of the 31 UV filters allowed in sunscreens in the U.S. or the European Union (EU) on live, healthy human sperm cells, from fresh semen samples obtained from several healthy donors. The sperm cells underwent testing in a buffer solution that resembled the conditions in female fallopian tubes.

Specifically, the investigators evaluated calcium signaling, which is signaling inside the cell brought on by changes in the concentration of calcium ions. Movement of calcium ions within sperm cells, through calcium ion channels, plays a major role on sperm cell function, according to Skakkebaek. CatSper is a sperm-specific calcium ion channel that he said is essential for male fertility. This channel is the main sperm receptor for progesterone, a potent hormone attractant for human sperm cells. Binding of progesterone to CatSper causes a temporary influx, or surge, of calcium ions into the sperm cell, controlling several sperm functions necessary for fertilization.

The researchers found that 13, or 45 percent, of the 29 UV filters tested induced calcium ion influxes in the sperm cells, thus interfering with normal sperm cell function.

"This effect began at very low doses of the chemicals, below the levels of some UV filters found in people after whole-body application of sunscreens," Skakkebaek said.

Furthermore, nine of the 13 UV filters seem to induce this calcium ion influx by directly activating the CatSper channel, thereby mimicking the effect of progesterone. This finding suggests that these UV filters are endocrine disruptors, Skakkebaek said. In addition, several of the UV filters affected important sperm functions normally controlled via CatSper, such as sperm motility.

Skakkebaek called for clinical studies to investigate whether chemical UV filters affect human fertility. He added, "Our study suggests that regulatory agencies should have a closer look at the effects of UV filters on fertility before approval."

Eight of the 13 UV filters that disrupted sperm cell function are approved for use in the U.S. They are:

  • avobenzone
  • homosalate
  • meradimate
  • octisalate (also known as octyl salicylate)
  • octinoxate (or octyl methoxycinnamate)
  • octocrylene
  • oxybenzone (also called benzophenone-3 or BP-3)
  • padimate O

These chemicals are common active ingredients in sunscreens as well as sunscreen-containing personal care products, such as makeup, moisturizers and lip balms.

PhD student and coauthor Anders Rehfeld, MD, will present the study findings.



An FDA Ban on Genetically-Engineered Milk is Twenty Years Overdue

Cancer Prevention Coalition, Jan 15, 2010
Straight to the Source

In May 2007, Samuel S. Epstein, MD, Chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition, and four other leading national experts on genetically-engineered, recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) milk filed a Petition to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), "Petition Seeking the Withdrawal of the New Animal Drug Application Approval for Posilac®-Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH)."

In the absence of any response, on January 12, 2010, Dr. Epstein resubmitted this Petition to Michael Taylor, Deputy Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.

As detailed in this Petition, Posilac® poses major public health hazards. Dr. Epstein requested his review and support of an early ban of Posilac®.

This Petition requests the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Commissioner of Food and Drugs to suspend the approval of rBGH, a genetically engineered bovine growth hormone, and require milk and other dairy products produced with its use to be labeled with a warning such as, "Produced with the use of rBGH, and contains elevated levels of insulin-like growth factor, IGF-1, which poses major risks of breast, prostate, and colon cancers."

    Evidence of these toxic effects was first detailed in confidential Monsanto reports, based on records of secret nationwide rBGH veterinary trials, submitted to the FDA prior to October 1989 when they were leaked to one of the petitioners, Dr. Epstein. He then made these reports available to Congressman John Conyers, Chairman of the House Committee on Government Operations. On May 8, 1990, Congressman Conyers issued the following statement, "I find it reprehensible that Monsanto and the FDA have chosen to suppress and manipulate animal health test data."

    Details of these toxic effects were subsequently admitted by Monsanto, and by the FDA, and were disclosed on the drug's veterinary label (Posilac®) in November, 1993. These toxic effects include injection site lesions, a wide range of other toxic effects, and an increased incidence of mastitis requiring the use and antibiotics, with resulting contamination of milk.
    A January 1994 Monsanto Executive Summary on rBGH, claimed that "natural milk is indistinguishable" from rBGH milk, and that "there is no legal basis requiring its labeling." However, there are a wide range of well-documented abnormalities in rBGH milk. These include: reduction in short-chain fatty acid and increase in long-chain fatty acid levels; increase in levels of a thyroid hormone enzyme; contamination with unapproved drugs for treating mastitis; and frequency of pus cells due to mastitis.
    A wide range of publications have documented excess levels of IGF-1 in rBGH milk, with increases ranging from four- to 20-fold. Based on six unpublished industry studies, FDA admitted that IGF-1 levels in rBGH milk were consistently and statistically increased, and that these were further increased by pasteurization. These increases were also admitted by the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, in application for marketing authorization in the European Community. It should also be noted that pasteurization of milk increases IGF-1 levels.
    IGF-1 is a small protein component known as a peptide. As such it is readily absorbed into the blood. It survives digestion, and has marked growth promoting effects following short-term feeding tests in rats.
    Increased levels of IGF-1 have been shown to increase risks of breast cancer in 19 scientific publications, risks of colon cancer in 10 publications, and prostate cancer in 7 publications.
    Of critical importance is the fact that increased IGF-1 levels block natural defense mechanisms, known as apoptosis, against early submicroscopic cancers.
    An increased rate of twinning in cows injected with rBGH was admitted by Monsanto on its November 1993 Posilac® label, and the incidence of fraternal twins. Monsanto also admitted that it increases "and complications such as premature delivery, congenital defects and pregnancy-induced hypertension."
    Based on well-documented veterinary and public health concerns, in June 30, 1999, the United Nations Food Safety Agency, representing 101 nations worldwide, ruled unanimously not to endorse or set a safety standard for rBGH milk. Effectively, this has resulted in an international ban on U.S. milk, approximately 20% of which is rBGH.
    The FDA continues to mislead dairy producers and consumers with regard to its requirement for labeling of rBGH milk, with its deliberately false claim that "No significant difference has been shown between milk derived from rBST-treated and non-rBST treated cows."
"In fact," warns Dr. Epstein, "rBGH milk continues to pose major cancer and other risks to the entire U.S. population."

The 2007 Petition has been endorsed by four other leading experts on genetically-engineered, recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) milk. We look forward to a response.

Samuel S. Epstein, M.D.
Professor emeritus Environmental and Occupational Health
University of Illinois School of Public Health
Chairman, Cancer Prevention Coalition
Chicago, IL

Ronnie Cummins
National Director
Organic Consumers Association
Finland, MN

John Kinsman
Family Farm Defenders
Madison, WI

Arpad Pusztai, PhD, FRSE
Consultant Biologist

Jeffrey Smith
Executive Director
Institute for Responsible Technology
Fairfield, IA

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The Dangers of Genetically Modified Sugar Beets

From Organic Consumers Association:


Genetically modified foods hit store shelves in the 1990's and now just about any food that isn't certified organic, and contains milk, soy, cotton, canola, corn, squash, or papaya, contains genetically modified ingredients. Non-organic meat, fish and eggs are likely to be from animals raised on genetically engineered feed and could be the product of cloned animals.


Genetically engineered sugar beets have been grown commercially in the US since 2008. That year about half of the crop was genetically engineered. The industry projected that about 90 percent of sugar beets would be genetically engineered by 2009. So, with 50% of the sugar supply from sugar beets, most of us have probably already been exposed to genetically engineered sugar.


Monsanto wouldn't be able to accomplish this lightning-fast market saturation without the monopolistic power it gained by buying up seed companies. While industrial producers say they like the way the herbicide-resistant crop saves labor, they are wary of the power Monsanto has to restrict their choices and raise prices.


Full article