Friday, May 24, 2013

Plastic food packaging 'could cause high blood pressure in children'

Anything with such a funny name as phthalates has got to be suspicious!  Be that as it may, publicity seekers have been targeting phthalates for a very long time -- long enough for there to have been many official reviews of the evidence against them -- reviews which find them harmless.  But if you keep doing studies of them over and over again, you are bound to get some "positive" results by chance alone.

And don't forget the study which shows that phthalates IMPROVE male reproductive performance!  LOL

Chemicals found in common plastics could cause high blood pressure in children, according to a new study.

Exposure to the phalates used in food packaging and other items is thought to cause significant metabolic and hormonal abnormalities, especially during early development.

The American scientists who carried out the study claim flooring, plastic cups, beach balls and plastic packaging contain the colourless and odourless toxic additives that are causing a rise in cases of juvenile high blood pressure.

Analysis of nearly 3,000 children by researchers at New York University's Langone Medical Centre, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Washington and Penn State University School of Medicine, points the finger of blame squarely at a common class of pthalates for the first time.

The report, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, said exposure to DEHP (di-2-ethyhexylphthalate), which is often used in industrial food production, is responsible for elevated systolic blood pressure - a measure of pressure in the arteries when the heart beats.

Dr Leonardo Trasande, associate professor of paediatrics, environmental medicine and population health at NYU Langone Medical Centre, said: 'Phthalates can inhibit the function of cardiac cells and cause oxidative stress that compromises the health of arteries but no one has explored the relationship between phthalate exposure and heart health in children.

'We wanted to examine the link between phthalates and childhood blood pressure, in particular given the increase in elevated blood pressure in children and the increasing evidence implicating exposure to environmental chemicals in early development of disease.'

The team only recorded a small rise per child in blood pressure with every three-fold increase in the level of phthalates detected in the children's urine samples, but Dr Tresande says the wider implications of a small rise are significant.

He said: '[The] increment may seem very modest at an individual level, but on a population level such shifts in blood pressure can increase the number of children with elevated blood pressure substantially.

'An explosion in the number of obese people around the world is being blamed on a widespread threat to cardiac health and doctors are seeing an increase in the number of young people suffering from the condition.'

According to Dr Tresande their research shows it is not just bad diets to blame.

He said: 'Obesity is driving the trend but our findings suggest that environmental factors may also be a part of the problem.

'This is important because phthalate exposure can be controlled through regulatory and behavioural interventions.

'Our study underscores the need for policy initiatives that limit exposure to disruptive environmental chemicals, in combination with dietary and behavioural interventions geared toward protecting cardiovascular health.'


'Miracle ingredient' in red wine could help you live a longer and more energetic life  -- if you are an earthworm

It is the perfect excuse to raise a glass to a long and active life. Scientists from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in France have shown that resveratrol, the ‘miracle ingredient’ in red wine, extends lifespan and provides an infusion of energy.

In this case, worms were the beneficiaries but it is thought that a similar technique could help people live longer.

Reservatrol is found in plants such as the Japanese knotweed. The findings, from scientists at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, were published in the Nature journal. They think similar results could be seen in humans

The effects of resveratrol have been studied in various studies.

In mouse and rat experiments it was shown to have anticancer, anti-inflammatory, blood sugar-lowering and other beneficial cardiovascular effects.

In humans studies, resveratrol is shown to be less effective.  Although, in one positive human trial, extremely high doses (3–5 g) of resveratrol were found to significantly lower blood sugar levels.

And with treated worms more energetic, it might be that we can also look forward to sprightly old age.

Researcher Professor Johan Auwerx said: ‘You don’t want to live longer and just sit in front of the television.  We want to have active lives.’

The Swiss researchers began by searching for genes involved in the ageing process.

By studying mice that live for different lengths of time, they hit upon three genes whose activity was key to lifespan.

When the genes only worked at half-power, the animals lived eight months longer, the journal Nature reports.

Professor Auwerx then showed that the genes also regulate longevity in worms.  There the results were even more astonishing – tinkering with the worms’ genes increasing lifespan by up to 80 per cent.

The genes make a protein that, when pumped out in high quantities, cuts lifespan.

With this in mind, Professor Auwerx turned to two widely used antibiotics that block the production of such proteins.

It was found to increase the lives of the worms tested by 60%. The worms were also more active, had greater endurance and healthier muscles

This allowed them to continue to wriggle fiercely when untreated worms had become weary.  At 13-days-old, the onset of adulthood, they moved twice as much as others.

And a week later, when the untreated worms were beginning to show their age, the difference was even more pronounced.

A final set of experiments showed that resveratrol, the ‘miracle ingredient’ in red wine uses the same mechanism to extend life.  However, the effect wasn’t as dramatic.

Professor Auwerx, of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, said: ‘This research gives us hope not only for increasing longevity, but also for lengthening the period of adult vitality, and doing this with simple drugs as antibiotics.’

While neither long-term antibiotic use or heavy drinking advisable, the key will be to find a safe drug that is just as effective.

The professor said that it may be that such a pill would only need to be taken during a key period of life, such as puberty.

Should it ever hit the market, he believes ‘everyone will be tempted to take it’.

Other potential ‘fountains of youth’ being researched around the world include a drug that made old mice young again.

And a modern, and it is believed, safer, version of thalidomide has shown promise in boosting the odds of a healthy old age.

Some experts say the science is moving so quickly that it will soon be possible to prevent many of ills of old age.

If lives were healthier as well as longer, people could work for longer – or simply make the most of their retirement.

Increasing the number of years of healthy life would also greatly ease health service costs and reduce the burden on families of caring for sick relatives.


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