Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The baby-bottle scare

A general background article on it below. The scare is quite idiotic and is nothing more than an attention-getting exercise for those who promote it. They say that baby bottles can release an incredibly tiny amount of a particular chemical. And what is the problem with that chemical? It acts like a normal and common human hormone that is found in both men and women. The extra effect given off from the baby bottle chemical would in other words be the tiniest fraction of something that we normally deal with every day anyway! And even IF it were a harmful chemical in big doses it does not follow that it would be harmful in small doses. Many things (e.g. common table salt) can be harmful in big doses but beneficial in small doses! If you need any more information after that see here

If a new report is to be believed, an entire generation of children has grown up drinking a toxic chemical from their earliest months: bisphenol A. A consortium of North American environmental and health groups released a paper Thursday showing that many major-brand baby bottles leach bisphenol A, and is now calling for a moratorium on the use of the compound - used to make polycarbonate plastic - in food and beverage containers.

Researchers tested 19 baby bottles purchased in nine U.S. states and Canada. Bottle brands included Avent, Dr. Brown, Evenflo, Disney, Gerber and Playtex. When the bottles were heated to 175 degrees F (80 degrees C), every one of them leached bisphenol A at about 5 to 7 parts per billion. The report also suggested that because of the chemical makeup of bisphenol A, it may leach more in fatty or acidic liquids, such as milk or apple juice, than in water.

It's a parent's nightmare. But before you panic, consider this: U.S. and E.U. health and environment authorities still stand behind polycarbonate plastic, putting the safe level of daily bisphenol A exposure at more than 25 times the levels found in baby bottles. (The Canadian agency, Health Canada, is currently reviewing its bisphenol A policy; conclusions are due in May.)

So who's right? Opponents of bisphenol A say official safety figures are far too high, given what the chemical, which mimics the hormone estrogen in the body, does in animals. In the lab, even low exposure levels - adjusted for body weight - have been linked to a variety of sex-hormone-imbalance effects, including breast and prostate cancer, early puberty, miscarriage, low sperm count, and immune-system changes. Critics also claim that in developing infants, such sex-hormone effects may come into play at exposure levels far below what health authorities have deemed safe for adults. "The reproductive system is developing, the brain is developing, the immune system is developing," David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany, told a news conference Thursday on behalf of the environmental agencies. Knowing that, he said, it is "absolutely obscene" to expose infants to the compound. Legislation has been proposed in several U.S. states to limit or ban the use bisphenol A. And a handful of stores, including Whole Foods and Patagonia, have yanked polycarbonate bottles from their shelves.

Still, the scientific establishment disagrees. In a 2006 summary explaining its review of bisphenol A safety, the European Food Safety Authority argued that animal trials of the chemical simply don't tell us very much about humans. For one thing, when humans ingest the compound, it's quickly excreted through the urine; when rats and mice eat it, it's released into the bloodstream and remains in the body much longer - with much more time to throw off the body's sex-hormone balance, causing nasty effects.

So far, the human data on bisphenol A have been "really inconclusive," says Antonia Calafat, a research chemist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, citing a lack of big quality studies testing the chemical's effects in humans. In order to prove definitively that bisphenol A is not harmful to people, researchers would need to conduct large, lengthy trials, such as those that finally concluded that thimerosal-containing vaccines do not cause autism in children. That would require rounding up a control group of participants with very little exposure to bisphenol A - no small feat. Calafat's recent findings showed that, among roughly 2,500 Americans tested in 2003 and 2004, more than 95% already had traces of bisphenol A in their urine. Alternatively, researchers could test how higher-than-average doses of bisphenol A affects people. Again, a likely dead end. "As a scientist it would be pretty much unethical to do that study knowing what [bisphenol A] does in animal studies," says Laura Vandenberg, a post-doc fellow at Harvard Medical School who researches bisphenol A, and is a critic of its use.

The obvious solution may seem to be, when in doubt, ban it. If there's a chance that bisphenol A hurts kids, then why run the risk? Certainly, parents have little interest in waiting for scientific evidence when they think their children's health is in danger. Hence, the many state legislators who want to limit bisphenol A's use now. But without evidence, anything could be considered potentially harmful. Right now, U.S. and E.U. health and environment authorities still believe the best evidence supports continued use of regular polycarbonate baby bottles.

Polycarbonate plastic is used for a reason: It's useful. Hard, shatterproof, lightweight and clear, it's in a huge range of products from water bottles and food storage containers, to lenses in eyeglasses and car headlights, CDs and DVDs, and even bulletproof glass. "Whether you realize it or not, you use it in your life every day," says Steven Hentges, head of the polycarbonate group at the industry lobby organization American Chemistry Council. There are, of course, alternatives to polycarbonates, like glass and other plastics. And for the growing number of consumers opposed to bisphenol A, there's no shortage of online resources to help find them.


US study finds genetic link to child obesity

A study of more than 5,000 pairs of twins has found that a child's risk of becoming overweight is mostly down to nature, not nurture. The research into children aged between eight and 11 showed that the variation in a child's body mass index and waist circumference was 77% attributable to genes and 23% to the environment in which they grow up.

Overweight children are more likely to become overweight or obese adults, a condition that can contribute to ill health and increased cancer risk in later life. The results are published today in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. "This study shows that it is wrong to place all the blame for a child's excessive weight gain on the parents; it is more likely to be due to the child's genetic susceptibility," said Jane Wardle of University College London.

A twin study allows scientists to work out the extent of the genetic contribution to a pattern of behaviour compared with the environmental contribution. Identical twins, who share all their genes, are compared with non-identical twins, who share half their genes. By spotting behaviour or traits that occur more often in identical rather than non-identical ones, scientists can work out the relative contribution of genetics.

Study author Susan Carnell, a psychologist at University College London, said that genetically influenced behaviour was not inevitable. "One of the ways genes could be acting is through behaviour, ie food intake and physical activity, and these things are under our conscious control. Genes just might make it more difficult for some people than others."

Sara Hiom, Cancer Research UK's director of health information, said: "This research highlights the importance of doing all we can to encourage children to eat healthily. "If genetic influence is strong, we must try to counter these inherited tendencies by providing the healthiest possible environment, and educating parents on the importance of a well-balanced diet and an active lifestyle."



Just some problems with the "Obesity" war:

1). It tries to impose behavior change on everybody -- when most of those targeted are not obese and hence have no reason to change their behaviour. It is a form of punishing the innocent and the guilty alike. (It is also typical of Leftist thinking: Scorning the individual and capable of dealing with large groups only).

2). The longevity research all leads to the conclusion that it is people of MIDDLING weight who live longest -- not slim people. So the "epidemic" of obesity is in fact largely an "epidemic" of living longer.

3). It is total calorie intake that makes you fat -- not where you get your calories. Policies that attack only the source of the calories (e.g. "junk food") without addressing total calorie intake are hence pissing into the wind. People involuntarily deprived of their preferred calorie intake from one source are highly likely to seek and find their calories elsewhere.

4). So-called junk food is perfectly nutritious. A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potatoes -- which is a mainstream Western diet. If that is bad then we are all in big trouble.

5). Food warriors demonize salt and fat. But we need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. And Eskimos eat huge amounts of fat with no apparent ill-effects. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has LOTS of fat. Will we ban roast dinners?

6). The foods restricted are often no more calorific than those permitted -- such as milk and fruit-juice drinks.

7). Tendency to weight is mostly genetic and is therefore not readily susceptible to voluntary behaviour change.

8). And when are we going to ban cheese? Cheese is a concentrated calorie bomb and has lots of that wicked animal fat in it too. Wouldn't we all be better off without it? And what about butter and margarine? They are just about pure fat. Surely they should be treated as contraband in kids' lunchboxes! [/sarcasm].

9). And how odd it is that we never hear of the huge American study which showed that women who eat lots of veggies have an INCREASED risk of stomach cancer? So the official recommendation to eat five lots of veggies every day might just be creating lots of cancer for the future! It's as plausible (i.e. not very) as all the other dietary "wisdom" we read about fat etc.

10). And will "this generation of Western children be the first in history to lead shorter lives than their parents did"? This is another anti-fat scare that emanates from a much-cited editorial in a prominent medical journal that said so. Yet this editorial offered no statistical basis for its opinion -- an opinion that flies directly in the face of the available evidence.

Even statistical correlations far stronger than anything found in medical research may disappear if more data is used. A remarkable example from Sociology:
"The modern literature on hate crimes began with a remarkable 1933 book by Arthur Raper titled The Tragedy of Lynching. Raper assembled data on the number of lynchings each year in the South and on the price of an acre's yield of cotton. He calculated the correlation coefficient between the two series at -0.532. In other words, when the economy was doing well, the number of lynchings was lower.... In 2001, Donald Green, Laurence McFalls, and Jennifer Smith published a paper that demolished the alleged connection between economic conditions and lynchings in Raper's data. Raper had the misfortune of stopping his analysis in 1929. After the Great Depression hit, the price of cotton plummeted and economic conditions deteriorated, yet lynchings continued to fall. The correlation disappeared altogether when more years of data were added."
So we must be sure to base our conclusions on ALL the data. But in medical research, data selectivity and the "overlooking" of discordant research findings is epidemic.

"What we should be doing is monitoring children from birth so we can detect any deviations from the norm at an early stage and action can be taken". Who said that? Joe Stalin? Adolf Hitler? Orwell's "Big Brother"? The Spanish Inquisition? Generalissimo Francisco Franco Bahamonde? None of those. It was Dr Colin Waine, chairman of Britain's National Obesity Forum. What a fine fellow!


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