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Experts Link Chemicals to Diabetes, Obesity

Sept. 28, 2015 – People who are trying to lose weight or manage diabetes should try to change their lifestyle not only to exercise or cut calories, but also to avoid chemicals that may be contributing to their condition, experts say.

“You may have a healthy meal, but if it’s in a plastic container, it’s leaching chemicals,” said Andrea Gore, PhD, a pharmacologist at the University of Texas at Austin in a webinar for reporters on Monday.

Gore is the chair of a task force that issued on Monday a new statement on the harm from hormone-disrupting chemicals. The statement, which is based on a review of more than 1,300 studies, says there’s convincing evidence to support a link between hundreds of hormone disruptors and several chronic health problems, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • Infertility
  • Hormone-sensitive cancers in women (breast, endometrial, ovarian)
  • Prostate cancer
  • Thyroid problems
  • Poor brain development and brain function in young children

Researchers say the statement is significant because it comes from a group of doctors that treat people for hormone problems instead of scientists who study the effects of chemicals in animals or on cells.

Gore said the evidence for these effects is now strong enough that everyone should take steps to avoid chemicals that block or mimic the action of hormones in the body.

She also called on doctors who are treating patients for infertility to tell their patients to avoid hormone disruptors, which are known to decrease semen quality and interfere with how ovaries work. She said doctors who are counseling pregnant women and the parents of young children should also warn about chemical exposures.

“In particular, we’re worried about fetuses, infants, children, etc.,” she said, because exposure to the chemicals during development could set the stage for disease down the road.

Avoiding these kinds of chemicals is easier said than done, however, since no one knows how many of them exist or exactly how they’re being used. That’s because chemicals aren’t tested for safety before they used in products that are sold to consumers.

There are about 85,000 chemicals known to be used in the U.S. No one knows how many might disrupt hormones.

“Not all of them are EDCs [endocrine-disrupting chemicals], but if even 1% of them were EDCs, that would be 850 chemicals,” Gore said.

Some of the best-known hormone-disrupting chemicals include:

  • Bisphenol A (BPA) and bisphenol S, which are used in some plastics, metal food cans, and cash register receipts
  • Phthalates, a class of chemicals that are used to soften plastic and also used in some perfumes, soaps, shampoos, and cosmetics
  • Some pesticides, like DDT
  • Triclosan, an antibacterial chemical

receipt

“They act at very low doses,” she said.

The statement calls for better safety testing to determine which chemicals could pose problems, tighter regulation, and more research on the health effects.

Environmental health experts cheered the new statement.

“I’m thrilled,” said Richard Stahlhut, MD, a visiting research scientist at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

“The endocrinologists had to be the first ones on board, and fortunately, they are,” he said. “If they’re not on board, then maybe people like me are crazy,” said Stahlhut, who studies the hormone-disrupting effects of chemicals like BPA.

Chemical manufacturers said the statement went too far.

“The statement incorrectly characterizes as settled the still-unproven hypothesis regarding risks of low levels of exposure to particular chemicals. In doing so, the [Endocrine] Society discounts the extensive reviews by experts at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the European Food Safety Authority that were unable to substantiate the health significance of the so called low-dose effects,” said the American Chemistry Council in a statement.

“Furthermore, the Endocrine Society’s report fails to differentiate between chemicals that are ‘endocrine-active,’ meaning they interact with the endocrine system, and those that are ‘endocrine disruptors,’ meaning that the levels of exposure associated with that interaction cause scientifically-proven adverse health effects,” the statement said.

Some retailers and manufacturers aren’t waiting for the dust to settle on the chemical debate.

On Monday, Bloomberg News reported that Target is expanding the list of chemicals it would ask suppliers to take out of their products. The expanded list will included nearly 600 chemicals on Health Canada’s roster of prohibited cosmetic ingredients. It will include triclosan, which is found in antibacterial soaps and some toothpastes.

Walmart also has a list of substances it asks retailers to avoid, though it doesn’t post the list publicly, Bloomberg reported.

Until more is known, Gore said consumers could reduce their exposure to known endocrine disruptors by avoiding bottled water in plastic bottles and being careful not to heat or microwave food in plastic containers.

Stahlhut said people who are concerned about chemical exposure should try to do the best they can, but because it’s impossible to avoid all potential exposures, to “Try to be Zen about it. Don’t drive yourself crazy.”

He said he tries to eat and drink out of stainless steel or glass containers instead of plastic. He especially tries to avoid heating food in plastic. He said he tries to avoid chemicals in the nonstick coatings by cooking in cast-iron pans. And he steers clear of soaps and toothpaste with triclosan.

“Make the easy choices when you can. Make the harder choices when you can afford it,” he said.

By Brenda Goodman, MA        WebMD Health News      Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD

SOURCES:
Andrea C. Gore, PhD, professor and Vacek Chair of Pharmacology, University of Texas at Austin; chair, Endocrine Society Statement on Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, Austin, TX.
Richard Stahlhut, MD, visiting research scientist, University of Missouri-Columbia.
The Endocrine Society, Scientific Statement, Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, Sept. 28, 2015.
The American Chemistry Council.
Bloomberg News.

source:  WebMD


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The Toothpaste Ingredient That Has Experts Worried

What You Need to Know About the Toothpaste Ingredient Making Headlines

August 15, 2014     By Amanda Gardner

How safe is your toothpaste? A flurry of recent news stories about Colgate Total Toothpaste and triclosan, a chemical with a somewhat checkered past, may have you wondering.

Triclosan is best known as an ingredient in antibacterial soaps that doesn’t seem to offer any extra germ-killing benefits, while possibly promoting drug-resistant bacteria in the environment. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration said in December that there was no evidence that triclosan-containing products are more effective than plain soap and water.

Colgate-Palmolive removed triclosan from Palmolive dish detergent and Softsoap hand soap back in 2011, according to Bloomberg News, but not their Total Toothpaste. They say it prevents gingivitis or early gum disease better than other brands, precisely because it contains triclosan. The FDA reviewed the data in 1997 and says “…the evidence showed that triclosan in this product was effective in preventing gingivitis.”

So what’s the big deal? The issue is that there are lingering concerns about triclosan’s safety in general, not just as a problem in the environment. And those concerns are based on studies in the animals, which don’t always translate easily to human risk.

“A concern specific to triclosan is its potential to act as an ‘endocrine disruptor,’ which means that it can bind to hormone receptors and interfere with normal hormonal function, including thyroid and reproductive hormones,” says Joshua U. Klein, MD assistant clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.

Dental health

However, the concentrations of triclosan researchers are feeding lab animals are “several levels higher than what humans would be exposed to,” says Jessica Savage, MD, a physician with Brigham & Women’s Hospital and a researcher with the Harvard School of Public Health’s NIEHS Center for Environmental Health, where she is conducting research on possible connections between triclosan and allergies.

And these animals are actually injected with or fed the triclosan, while humans absorb small amounts through their skin or from brushing their teeth.

“We’re exposed to very little of this product,” Dr. Savage notes. “Especially when you’re brushing your teeth, you’re spitting [the toothpaste] out.”

The FDA says triclosan is not known to be hazardous to humans, and considers it safe in products—just not effective at killing germs any better than soap. “There’s some animal data but I don’t think there’s human data that suggests a causal relationship between triclosan and adverse health outcomes,” says Dr. Savage. Even though she studies triclosan and allergies, she hasn’t yet found a link. “I’m not near saying triclosan causes allergies,” she adds. “I think we need more good data.”

Dr. Klein doesn’t recommend avoiding triclosan in toothpaste. However couples “focused on fertility and trying to eliminate any possible negative exposure might consider choosing alternative products that do not contain triclosan until further convincing studies are completed in humans,” he says. People concerned about fertility should bear in mind that good oral hygiene may actually increase (or at least preserve) the odds of starting a family. “There are several studies linking reduced inflammation and good oral health to reproductive health so this is significant to fertility in particular,” says Dr. Klein.

For now, the evidence suggests that triclosan may be a bigger threat to the environment than to individuals.

“The issue with triclosan and triclocarban [a related chemical] is not so much that they present a direct threat to human health in concentrations that are found in toothpaste [and other consumer products],” says Robert Lawrence, MD, director of the Center for a Livable Future at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “It’s their long-term accumulation in the environment and their impact on the ecosystem that is most alarming.”

source:   time.com     news.health.com


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Why Everyone Should Care About Endocrine Disruptors

BY CHERYL BIGUS    SEPTEMBER 30, 2013

You endocrine system is an information superhighway that regulates your bodily functions. It releases hormone “messengers” through your body’s glands to stimulate and regulate everything your body does to keep you alive.

Understanding endocrine disruptors is a first line to balancing your endocrine system and hormone functions.

What are endocrine disruptors?

Endocrine disruptors and man-made chemicals that alter, mimic or block hormone production or the system that carries them. You can call these external stressors, while your internal stressors that affect the system are rooted in negative emotions, fear, trauma and stress.

Where can endocrine disruptors be found?

You might be surprised at how common they are, and that you’re exposed to them every day. They can be found in:

  • common household cleaners
  • yard, garden and farm chemicals
  • personal care products
  • preservatives
  • artificial and “natural” flavors in processed food products
  • parfum, “natural” fragrance, or anything “unscented.”

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council some of the proven endocrine disruptors include dioxin, PCBs, DDT, and other pesticides.

cans

Some of these disruptors are surprisingly abundant in your internal and home environment. Here are some of the most common ones, along with the products that often contain them:

  • Bisphenol: BPA, BPS in plastics and in the lining of canned goods.
  • Triclosan: “antibacterial” products that interfere with thyroid hormones.
  • Phthalates (DBT, DEHP): haircare products, lotions, some plastic food containers, vinyl.
  • Perfluorinated chemicals: Teflon, Gore-Tex, PFOS, PFOA, as well as anything “stain-resistant,” make-up, nail polish and (surprise) dental floss.
  • Parabens: butyl-, methyl-, ethyl-, and propyl-parabens act as synthetic estrogen.
  • Sodium lauryl sulphates (SLS): a foaming agent in personal care and cleaning products.
  • Fluoride: blocks proper absorption of iodine by the thyroid gland as well as affects the pineal, parathyroid and pancreas. It causes dental and skeletal fluorosis.

These are some of the major culprits, and by no means is this a complete list. There are more than 80,000 chemicals and pesticides on the market in the U.S. that have never been tested for safety, and they’re in everything from food packaging to your clothes, your furniture, carpets and cabinetry.

Why should you care?

These chemicals are in the air you breathe and many water supplies in the US. They affect everything in the food chain from plants, fish, birds and the mammals that eat them (that means you).

Even with the EPA in place, there isn’t proper testing done on chemicals to determine toxicity or the effects on the population. The government takes the stance that many of these chemicals are GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) … until proven otherwise.

The general population doesn’t have the resources to prove these chemicals are safe and government feels its a burden that is too much for industry to bear.

What can you do?

Start by getting rid of the plastics in your life and cleaning up your personal care products (including sunscreen) by replacing them with ones that don’t have parabens or SLS. Here are a few other rules of thumb that can help you eliminate some of the worst endocrine disruptors on the market today:

  • Don’t buy anything stain-resistant or Teflon.
  • Buy fresh or frozen instead of canned. There are a few companies that don’t use BPA-lined cans, such as Muir Glen and Eden Foods.
  • If it smells like plastic or vinyl, it’s off-gassing and your body is absorbing that through your skin (your largest organ) and your lungs.
  • Don’t purchase or use anything anti-bacterial which are in most personal care products to protect us from germs and microbes. Watch out it is in toothpaste now as well. Plain old fashioned non-detergent soap is good enough to fight most germs.
  • Use bamboo cutting boards instead of plastic. They are naturally anti-microbial.
  • Use fluoride-free dental products and water that you drink, cook with and bathe in.
  • Start swapping out your cleaning and laundry supplies for soaps instead of detergents.

Don’t try to attack this all at once. As you can afford, start replacing things that you use or that you are in contact with the most.


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Anti-bacterial soaps under scrutiny as Minnesota bans triclosan

Erin Anderssen    The Globe and Mail   Wednesday, May. 21 2014

While health agencies continue to review the safety of the chemical in anti-bacterial soap, the state of Minnesota has decided to ban the germ-killer triclosan.

The new law will not take effect until 2017, but it’s a first step in North America amidst growing concern about the potential hazards of the chemical, which is added to soap, body washes and even toothpaste. Triclosan has been widely use in consumer products for decades, but some studies have suggested that it may disrupt hormones, and there are concerns that its use may contribute to antiobiotic-resistent bacteria. It has also been used as a pesticide, and it is destructive to the environment, particularly marine life.

The Canadian Medical Association, Environmental Defence and other groups have been calling for a ban on antibacterial products for years.

The Food and Drug Administration in the United States announced public hearings into the use of the chemical in December. Health Canada is awaiting the outcome of the FDA review, before deciding further action at this point. Triclosan is also being reviewed under the Canada’s chemical management plan, which considers how to reduce the release of hazardous substances into the environment.

triclosan

According to Health Canada, there are currently about 1,600 cosmetics and personal care products containing triclosan sold in Canada. While Health Canada acknowledges the environmental hazard, the department assessment states that in the dose contained in toothpaste and soaps, the chemical is safe for human use. But while manufacturers are limited in the amounts they may add to products, the David Suzuki Foundation points out since it is so common across multiple product lines, the amount that the average Canadian may be exposed to could add up over time. According to the Foundation, scientists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found triclosan in the urine of 75 per cent of the 2,500 subjects aged six and older that were tested for a study.

Minnesota is the first state to ban the use of triclosan. Senator John Marty, who was one of the lead sponsors for the bill, predicted that other states would follow, while also suggesting that many companies would likely phase out their use of the chemical over the next few years. (Currently, Procter & Gamble sells triclosan-free toothpaste, for instance.)

The best reason to limit triclosan: Canadians may be dousing themselves with a potentially hazardous chemical (and a pesticide) when a squirt of tried-and-true soap and water and some careful scrubbing will get the job done.