Monday, June 30, 2008

Tap Water Chemicals Not Linked to Penis Defect

Though some research has linked chemicals in chlorinated tap water to the risk of birth defects, a new study finds no strong evidence that the chemicals contribute to a common birth defect of the penis. The defect, known as hypospadias, occurs when the urinary outlet develops on the underside of the penis rather than at the tip. Genetics are thought to play a large role in hypospadias risk, but the other potential causes are not fully understood.

Some past studies have suggested that certain chemicals in tap water -- byproducts of the chlorination process used to kill disease-causing pathogens -- may contribute to the risk of birth defects and miscarriage. Other studies, though, have found no such links.

For the current study, researchers led by Tom J. Luben of the US Environmental Protection Agency used birth records from 934 boys born in Arkansas between 1998 and 2002. Of these children, 320 were born with hypospadias. [WTF! A third of boys born deformed??? Apparently not. It seems that the controls were just a sample] Luben's team analyzed monitoring data from local water utilities to estimate the mothers' exposure to two major classes of water-disinfection byproducts during pregnancy. Overall, the researchers found, women with the greatest exposure to these chemicals were no more likely to give birth to a boy with hypospadias than women with the least exposure.

They report the findings in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine. "Our results do not support the hypothesis that continuous or intermittent exposure to tap water disinfection byproduct concentrations within regulatory limits during gestation is associated with giving birth to a son with hypospadias," Luben and colleagues write.

However, the findings are not the final word, either. The researchers did find that when they accounted for mothers' total exposure to certain chemicals -- through drinking, bathing and showering -- there was some evidence of a link to hypospadias.

There was, however, no clear pattern of hypospadias risk climbing as mothers' exposure to tap water chemicals increased. Such patterns, known as a "dose-response" relationship, are considered to be evidence of cause-and-effect. The results, according to Luben's team, "could be due to chance." They call for further studies, with more-precise information on individual women's exposure to tap water chemicals, to help settle the question.

Source. Journal article here

Alcohol shaping women's bodies

I doubt that the effect described is due to alcohol alone. Being overweight generally would seem a likely factor and that need not be due to drinking

As women catch up with men in the drinking stakes, their waistlines are also catching up with the beer belly, according to health experts. An English dietitian has given the apple-shaped body type a new name - the wineglass - due to the love of the drink. Jacqui Lowdon, from the British Dietetic Association, said it was the result of image-conscious women exercising to keep fit, and yet neglecting to cut back their alcohol intake.

The shape is characterised by weight accumulating in the middle, creating a larger upper body and a thinner lower half. Traditionally seen in women after menopause, this barrel-torso physique is now becoming common in the under 30s. Singers Britney Spears, Charlotte Church and Fergie are seen as examples of this emerging body type.

International health and longevity expert Dr John Tickell cited extended drinking hours contributed to the growing number of "wineglass" figures. "The social pressures on the way we eat and drink are just so different to what they were 50 years ago," Dr Tickell said. "What happens now is that most of the kids don't go out until 10 or 11 or midnight, and they stay out drinking in clubs all night."

Dr Tickell explained that our sedentary lifestyles and intake of excess calories through alcoholic drinks such as wine and sweet alcopops contributed to the skinny-leg, big-belly look. "The evolution of the wineglass shape for women, with the thinner legs, is because we don't use our legs," he said. "We don't play netball, we don't climb stairs - we don't do anything." "This is not a genetic thing; it's a lifestyle thing, the accumulation of excess calories you consume starts to go around the tummy."

Dr Tickell said it was a worrying trend and could lead to a number of health problems. "It was sort of OK for a man to look like an apple but now it's becoming OK for a woman to look like an apple or a wineglass, which is terribly unhealthy. "Wineglass equals high-risk diabetes, breast cancer and bowel cancer and all the other cancers."

Nadia Jacobi, 23, a regular at the gym, said she was aware of the emerging trend. "If you go out and drink all weekend there is no point to doing all the gym training," she said. "If you look on the back of a wine bottle you can see how many carbs the wine has that contribute to how many calories there are and I don't think a lot of people are aware of that."



John A said...

Wine glass? Not Brandy snifter? Or the closer-to-reality schooner?

And yes, this is anti-alcohol biased yammering/prejudice, not science.

John A said...

Those salt-shakers: is this the same council that a year ago sent out flyers to restaurants and pubs asking them to buy such shakers and got laughed at? So now the figure that if they provide the shakers "free" (i.e. paid for by taxes) the food sellers might go along?

And the "reason" behind it, the ever-so-appalling dangers of salt consumption? Non-existent, barring a few illnesses. Salt is not like fat in an important way: if you overdo, the body has pretty efficient ways to dispose of (NOT store, as with fat) the excess. Plus, what pols (and we the public, thanks to eedjuts in the press) fail to notice about the scientific daily requirement salt (and other) figures is that they are minima, not maxima.