5&5: News and Science Highlights from October 2011

November 8, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Posted in News and Science Bulletins | Leave a comment


Breast cancer: Any link to pollutants remains hazy: Detailed article in the LA Times about suspicions that incidence of breast cancer is influenced by environmental pollutants. There is strong evidence from animal studies, but finding proof in humans is challenging: latency periods, unknown exposures and combined multiple risk factors all muddy the waters.

Advising parents in the face of scientific uncertainty: an environmental health dilemma: Excellent, in-depth article about how to communicate environmental health issues to parents. On the one hand, these threats may be the least of some people’s worries (and their doctors’ as well). On the other, these issues can be a source of great concern, even though the potential health effects involved for individuals are far from certain.

EFSA announces new review of safety of BPA: The European Food Safety Authority has announced a fresh review of its opinion on the safety of BPA, following the publication of two reports preceding a French National Assembly vote banning “the fabrication, import, export and placing on the market of all food contact materials containing BPA from 1 January 2014”.

Philadelphia becomes hotbed of autism research: Interesting article about research being undertaken to obtain more information about how the environment may trigger autism, important in the context of recent findings that the disease is not as dependent on genetics as previously thought.

Two New Reasons to Worry about Air Pollution: Obesity and Diabetes: Forbes looks at how arguments against tighter controls on air pollution begin to unravel in the face of a spate of new studies that have found a rather convincing correlation between the presence of small particulate matter and both obesity and diabetes.


Perinatal exposure to BPA increases adult mammary gland progesterone response and cell number: Mice exposed around birth to environmentally relevant doses of bisphenol A (BPA) experience changes to long-term hormone response and breast development which may increase the propensity to develop cancer. Study summarised in ScienceDaily.

Impact of Early-Life Bisphenol A Exposure on Behavior and Executive Function in Children: In this study, published in the medical journal Pediatrics, gestational BPA exposure was found to affect behavioural and emotional regulation domains at 3 years of age, especially among girls. The findings were covered by TIME, while a mouse study also published in October found further evidence that BPA may cause behaviour change.

In utero exposure to bisphenol-A and anogenital distance of male offspring: Ano-genital distance is becoming an increasingly well-recognised biomarker of harm to the male reproductive system. This epidemiological study found that a highly significant relationship between maternal exposure to BPA and reduced AGD in their sons.

Chronic consumption of farmed salmon containing persistent organic pollutants causes insulin resistance and obesity in mice: Study finding that mice fed on a diet high in salmon contaminated with POPs were more likely to develop type 2 diabetes and become obese, providing further evidence of a role for POPs in these conditions. Farmed fish can be relatively heavily contaminated with POPs, mainly because of contaminated feed. EHN published a synopsis of these findings.

Prenatal Concentrations of PCBs, DDE, DDT and Overweight in Children: A Prospective Birth Cohort Study: This epidemiological study finds that prenatal organochlorine exposure may be associated with overweight in children, in particular making them more susceptible to weight gain from a high-fat diet.

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