Initiatives to mprove reproducibility of research; flame retardants in peanut butter; and more // August 2014 news round-up

August 12, 2014 at 4:53 pm | Posted in 5&5 News & Science | Leave a comment
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August 2014 News Digest

Research Wranglers: Initiatives to Improve Reproducibility of Study Findings. Advances in science depend on researchers being able to reproduce the findings of their peers, thus providing a solid platform from which to move forward with new lines of scientific inquiry. Yet for a variety of reasons, irreproducibility appears to be a growing problem in experimental research. Now funding agencies and research journals are crafting guidelines to ensure that published studies are well designed, well reported, and better able to generate reproducible results. (Environmental Health Perspectives)

Flame Retardants Are Everywhere. If flame retardants can be found even in peanut butter, then where else have they spread? And what health risks come with them? (New York Times)

Denmark scraps planned ban on phthalate chemicals. After pressure from the European Commission and the outcome of a related court case, the Danish government has decided to scrap its planned ban on four phthalates, a group of chemicals used to soften plastic. (Euractiv)

Danes to propose candidate list phthalates as EDCs. Denmark has announced that it will withdraw its legislation to ban four phthalates (DEHP, DBP, BBP and DIBP), after the European Commission considered infringement action for going against an EU-wide decision. However, the country has notified ECHA that it intends to propose that the four phthalates, which are already on the REACH candidate list based on their reprotoxic properties, are also designated as endocrine disruptors. (Chemical Watch)

Over 60% of breads sold in the UK contain pesticide residues, tests show The levels found were below “maximum residue level” (MRL) limits. Pesticide Action Network UK (Pan UK) said MRLs only indicate whether the pesticides had been applied to crops in the amounts permitted. “There is the possibility of harm from the repeated ingestion of low doses of pesticides and no one has done research on the impact of the cocktails of pesticides.” (The Guardian)

Integrating science into decision-making; breast cancer, epigenenitics and BPA; and more / August 2014 science digest #2

August 12, 2014 at 11:48 am | Posted in 5&5 News & Science | Leave a comment
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August Science Digest #2
Non-human and policy research

Integrating evidence into decision-making | The Navigation Guide Systematic Review Methodology: A Rigorous and Transparent Method for Translating Environmental Health Science into Better Health Outcomes. The Navigation Guide methodology builds on best practices in research synthesis in evidence-based medicine and environmental health. Key points of departure from current methods of expert-based narrative review prevalent in environmental health include: an a priori protocol; standardized and transparent documentation including expert judgment; a comprehensive search strategy; assessment of “risk of bias”; and separation of the science from values and preferences.

In an additional editorial the value of these efforts for improving the reproducibility of research relevant to public health policy-making are described.

Breast cancer, BPA | Prenatal Exposure to BPA Alters the Epigenome of the Rat Mammary Gland and Increases the Propensity to Neoplastic Development. Study showing that fetal BPA exposure triggers changes in the postnatal and adult mammary gland epigenome and alters gene expression patterns, changes which may contribute to the development of pre-neoplastic and neoplastic lesions that manifest during adulthood.

The lead researcher told Chemical Watch that the study suggests the causal link between BPA exposure and cancer is not linear but rather a complex constellation of anomalies, all contributing to BC risk. The changes seen “appear to reflect developmental aberrations” as a result of BPA exposure, rather than actual “causal events” which give rise to carcinogenesis in adulthood.

Mixtures, Risk Assessment | Cumulative Health Risk Assessment: Finding New Ideas and Escaping from the Old Ones. This review examines the implementation of effects-based CRA, which emphasizes evaluating health risks in a defined community or population, as opposed to stressor-based approaches, which focus on determining health risks for a defined set of stressors.

Obesity, POPs | Perinatal Exposure of Mice to the Pesticide DDT Impairs Energy Expenditure and Metabolism in Adult Female Offspring. A study suggesting that perinatal DDT exposure impairs thermogenesis and the metabolism of carbohydrates and lipids in mice, which may increase susceptibility to the metabolic syndrome in adult female offspring.

Obesity, Flame Retardants | Ligand Binding and Activation of PPARγ by Firemaster 550: Effects on Adipogenesis and Osteogenesis in Vitro . A study which is important because of the role of the PPARγ receptor in distribution of fat cells during development. These findings suggest that FM550 components bind and activate PPARγ, initiating adipocyte differentiation and antagonising osteogenesis. The study authors believe triphenyl phosphate (TPP) to be the Firemaster component which contributes the most to these effects.

Effect of PFC exposure on thyroid levels in pregnancy; PCBs on hearing; and more // August 2014 science digest #1

August 10, 2014 at 2:44 pm | Posted in 5&5 News & Science | Leave a comment
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August Science Digest #1
Human research

Thyroid function, PFCs | Associations between perfluoroalkyl acids (PFASs) and maternal thyroid hormones in early pregnancy: A population-based cohort study. PFASs were positively associated with thyroid stimulating hormone and weakly negatively associated with free thyroxine in the subset of pregnant women with high thyroid peroxidase antibody, a marker of autoimmune hypothyroidism and which occurs in 6-10% of pregnancies. PFASs may exacerbate the already high TSH and low fT4 levels in these women during early pregnancy, which is a critical time of thyroid hormone-mediated fetal brain development; however, the clinical significance of these findings is not clear.

Hearing, PCBs | Prenatal and Postnatal Serum PCB Concentrations and Cochlear Function in Children at 45 Months of Age. Study finding an association between poorer performance in hearing tests and postnatal exposure to PCBs; maternal and cord PCB concentrations were not associated with hearing performance.

Obesity, BPA || Early-Life Bisphenol A Exposure and Child Body Mass Index: A Prospective Cohort Study. To determine if early life BPA exposure was associated with increased body mass index (BMI) at 2-5 years of age, 297 mother-child pairs were studied (HOME Study). Prenatal and early childhood BPA exposures were not associated with increased BMI at 2-5 years, but higher early childhood exposure to BPA was associated with accelerated growth during this period.

Brain cancer, solvents | Childhood brain tumours: associations with parental occupational exposure to solvents. An increased risk of childhood brain tumor (CBT) was observed with maternal occupational exposures to chlorinated solvents (OR=8.59, 95% CI 0.94–78.9) any time before birth. Paternal exposure to solvents in the year before conception was also associated with an increased CBT risk: OR=1.55 (95% CI 0.99–2.43). This increased risk appeared to be mainly attributable to exposure to aromatic solvents: OR=2.72 (95% CI 0.94–7.86) for benzene and OR=1.76 (95% CI 1.10–2.82) for other aromatics.

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