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The Slow Poisoning of Health and the Environment by COLIN TODHUNTER

The Slow Poisoning of Health and the Environment

CounterPunch Tells the Facts and Names the Names
Copyright © CounterPunch counterpunch@counterpunch.org

It’s an all too common tale of dirty deeds, shady deals and propaganda. Rosemary Mason’s recent open letter to journalists at The Guardian outlines how the media is failing the public by not properly reporting on the regulatory delinquency relating to GM food and the harmful chemicals being applied to crops. Much of the media is even (unwittingly) acting as a propaganda arm for big agritech companies.

An open ‘Letter from America’ was penned in November 2014 warning countries in Europe and EU regulators not to authorise (chemical-dependent) GM crops because of the devastating effects on human health and the environment. Mason notes that David Cameron ignored that advice. The European Commission and the European Food Safety Authority also ignored it and have continued to allow GM into food and feed in the EU and sanction the ongoing use of dangerous pesticides.

While there is undoubtedly good work being carried out by individual journalists in this area, Mason feels the media should be doing more to hold officials to account and should report more accurately on the consequences of the genetic modification of food as well as the effects of agrochemicals. Continue Reading »

New Alzheimer’s treatment fully restores memory function. Of the mice that received the treatment, 75 percent got their memory function back. Publishing in Science Translational Medicine, the team describes the technique as using a particular type of ultrasound called a focused therapeutic ultrasound, which non-invasively beams sound waves into the brain tissue. By oscillating super-fast, these sound waves are able to gently open up the blood-brain barrier, which is a layer that protects the brain against bacteria, and stimulate the brain’s microglial cells to activate. Microglila cells are basically waste-removal cells, so they’re able to clear out the toxic beta-amyloid clumps that are responsible for the worst symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Continue Reading »

UCLA study finds advanced thyroid cancer rate in some California counties is well above national averageTo investigate the possibility of environmental impacts as a predisposition for thyroid cancer, we sought to identify counties in California with possible geographic clustering of advanced thyroid cancer cases. We recently published our findings in the Journal of Surgical Research. – See more at: http://www.journalofsurgicalresearch.com/article/S0022-4804(15)01062-8/abstract

The research was led by Dr. Avital Harari, a member of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and assistant professor of surgery.

Approximately 63,000 people were diagnosed with thyroid cancer nationwide last year, and according to the National Cancer Institute, the incidence of thyroid cancer has increased across racial, ethnic and gender lines over the past several decades. When detected early, thyroid cancer is treatable and even curable. However, survival rates are much lower for people who are diagnosed at advanced stages of the disease.

Continue Reading »

How Society Subsidizes Big Food and Poor Health

http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2530898

Approximately 80% of calories eaten in the United States are grown domestically.1 Yet, the US diet is a leading cause of morbidity. The analysis by Siegel et al2 in this issue of JAMA Internal Medicine suggests that through commodity subsidies that encourage poor diet we are, in part, paying for our own demise.

However, commodity subsidies are a small part of a bigger problem. From 2014 to 2023, the 2014 US Farm Bill will cost $956 billion (letter from D. W. Elmendorf to Frank D. Lucas, chair of the House Committee on Agriculture; http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/hr2642LucasLtr.pdf), of which direct support for commodity production is only $44.5 billion over 10 years. Furthermore, among a range of agricultural products, farmers receive the greatest share of the retail price in beef and milk at 50% compared with only 7% for processed food, such as bread. So, while processed food prices may be low, commodity subsidies are not the primary cause.

Association of Higher Consumption of Foods Derived From Subsidized Commodities With Adverse Cardiometabolic Risk Among US Adults

http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2530901

Food subsidies are designed to enhance food availability, but whether they promote cardiometabolic health is unclear. Objective  investigate whether higher consumption of foods derived from subsidized food commodities is associated with adverse cardiometabolic risk among US adults.

Design, Setting, and Participants Cross-sectional analysis of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data from 2001 to 2006. Our final analysis was performed in January 2016. Participants were 10 308 nonpregnant adults 18 to 64 years old in the general community.

Exposure From a single day of 24-hour dietary recall in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, we calculated an individual-level subsidy score that estimated an individual’s consumption of subsidized food commodities as a percentage of total caloric intake.

Main Outcomes and Measures The main outcomes were body mass index (calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared), abdominal adiposity, C-reactive protein level, blood pressure, non–high-density lipoprotein cholesterol level, and glycemia.

Conclusions and Relevance Among US adults, higher consumption of calories from subsidized food commodities was associated with a greater probability of some cardiometabolic risks. Better alignment of agricultural and nutritional policies may potentially improve population health.

Ambient air pollution and low birthweight: a European cohort study (ESCAPE)

http://www.thelancet.com/collections/respiratory-medicine

Ambient air pollution has been associated with restricted fetal growth, which is linked with adverse respiratory health in childhood. We assessed the effect of maternal exposure to low concentrations of ambient air pollution on birthweight.

Methods
We pooled data from 14 population-based mother–child cohort studies in 12 European countries. Overall, the study population included 74 178 women who had singleton deliveries between Feb 11, 1994, and June 2, 2011, and for whom information about infant birthweight, gestational age, and sex was available. The primary outcome of interest was low birthweight at term (weight <2500 g at birth after 37 weeks of gestation). Mean concentrations of particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter of less than 2·5 μm (PM2·5), less than 10 μm (PM10), and between 2·5 μm and 10 μm during pregnancy were estimated at maternal home addresses with temporally adjusted land-use regression models, as was PM2·5 absorbance and concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and nitrogen oxides. We also investigated traffic density on the nearest road and total traffic load. We calculated pooled effect estimates with random-effects models.

Findings
A 5 μg/m3 increase in concentration of PM2·5 during pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of low birthweight at term (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 1·18, 95% CI 1·06–1·33). An increased risk was also recorded for pregnancy concentrations lower than the present European Union annual PM2·5 limit of 25 μg/m3 (OR for 5 μg/m3 increase in participants exposed to concentrations of less than 20 μg/m3 1·41, 95% CI 1·20–1·65). PM10 (OR for 10 μg/m3 increase 1·16, 95% CI 1·00–1·35), NO2 (OR for 10 μg/m3 increase 1·09, 1·00–1·19), and traffic density on nearest street (OR for increase of 5000 vehicles per day 1·06, 1·01–1·11) were also associated with increased risk of low birthweight at term. The population attributable risk estimated for a reduction in PM2·5 concentration to 10 μg/m3 during pregnancy corresponded to a decrease of 22% (95% CI 8–33%) in cases of low birthweight at term.

Interpretation
Exposure to ambient air pollutants and traffic during pregnancy is associated with restricted fetal growth. A substantial proportion of cases of low birthweight at term could be prevented in Europe if urban air pollution was reduced.

Household Chemical Exposures and the Risk of Canine Malignant Lymphoma, a Model for Human Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

In summary, findings of this study suggest that exposure to certain types of lawn care chemicals may increase the risk of malignant lymphoma in dogs. Additional studies are needed to further evaluate the effects of specific chemical components of lawn care products on risk of canine malignant lymphoma, and may potentially contribute to human NHL as well.

Lawn Chemicals Linked to 2 Types of Cancer in Dogs

According to a study conducted over a 6 year period at the Foster Hospital for Small Animals at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, exposure to lawn pesticides, specifically those applied by professional lawn care companies, raised the risk of canine malignant lymphoma (CML) by as much as 70%

Epidemiologic studies of companion animals offer an important opportunity to identify risk factors for cancers in animals and humans. Canine malignant lymphoma (CML) has been established as a model for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). Previous studies have suggested that exposure to environmental chemicals may relate to development of CML.

Methods We assessed the relation of exposure to flea and tick control products and lawn-care products and risk of CML in a case-control study of dogs presented to a tertiary-care veterinary hospital (2000–2006). Cases were 263 dogs with biopsy-confirmed CML. Controls included 240 dogs with benign tumors and 230 dogs undergoing surgeries unrelated to cancer. Dog owners completed a 10-page questionnaire measuring demographic, environmental, and medical factors.

Results After adjustment for age, weight, and other factors, use of specific lawn care products was associated with greater risk of CML. Specifically, the use of professionally applied pesticides was associated with a significant 70% higher risk of CML (odds ratio(OR)=1.7; 95% confidence interval (CI)=1.1–2.7). Risk was also higher in those reporting use of self-applied insect growth regulators (OR = 2.7; 95% CI=1.1–6.8). The use of flea and tick control products was unrelated to risk of CML.

Conclusions Results suggest that use of some lawn care chemicals may increase the risk of CML. Additional analyses are needed to evaluate whether specific chemicals in these products may be related to risk of CML, and perhaps to human NHL as well. Continue Reading »

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