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New Study on Toxins and Fertility

powerful new study published in the peer reviewed journal from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (a branch of the NIH) makes an association between fertility and exposure to persistent environmental toxins like pesticides, PBDEs (the flame retardants found in most all upholstered furniture) and PFOAs, ubiquitous chemicals from a range of sources houshold dust and microwave popcorn bags.

The scientists from a range of research labs including Ohio State, Emory, Texas A&M and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Health recruited 501 couples (18 to 40 years old) in Michigan and Texas in counties with reported exposure to persistent environmental chemicals, and who were planning pregnancy in the next six months. The measure of fertility was "time to pregnancy" and the overall result was that couples with higher levels of exposure to chemicals took longer to get pregnant. 

The couples were off of all contraceptives for at least two months and off of injectible contraceptives for a year. Fasting blood samples were taken and analyzed for the presence of 60 different environmental pollutants including ten pesticides, ten types of PBDE flame retardants, 36 PCBs and seven PFCs (pollutants most famously known for being used in the manufactur of Teflon and Gortex.) The couples were observed for a full 12 menstrual cycles, making this study--called LIFE (for Longitudinal Investigation of Fertility and the Environment)--the longest such couples study and the first to look in detail at so many potential toxins. 

To read about the study results, click here.


Diet Soda May Cause People to Eat More Sweets

In a small but insightful study researchers at the University of California San Diego and San Diego State University pinpoint a reward feedback loop in the brain that is tripped up by diet soda. Using functional MRIs the study was able to show that individuals who consumed a greater number of diet sodas had reduced activation in part of the brain involved in signalling reward and controlling food intake.

With regular consumption of diet sodas, the brain lost its normal ability to associate sweet tastes with calories, thus prompting people to eat more sweet foods overall.

"These findings suggest that there are alterations in reward processing of sweet taste in individuals who regularly consume diet soda, and this is associated with the degree of consumption," the researchers wrote in their conclusion.

The diet soda drinkers just didn't get the signal to stop...and apparently common sense did not fill the void.


Studies Link Children's Allergy Risks to Antibacterial Products and Preservatives

Antibacterials and preservatives in products such as soap, toothpaste and mouthwash may be linked to an increased risk of allergies in children, according to a new study.Antibacterial soaps and other products with Triclosan are tied to an increase in childhood allergies.

Johns Hopkins Children's Center researchers used data from a U.S. national health survey of 860 children, aged 6 to 18, to examine the link between urinary levels of antibacterials and preservatives found in many personal-care products and the presence of IgE antibodies in the children's blood.

IgE antibodies are part of the body's immune system. Their levels rise in response to an allergen and are elevated in people with allergies.

"We saw a link between level of exposure, measured by the amount of antimicrobial agents in the urine, and allergy risk, indicated by circulating antibodies to specific allergens," lead investigator Dr. Jessica Savage, an allergy and immunology fellow, said in a Hopkins news release.

Children with the highest levels of the antibacterial agent triclosan had more than twice the risk of food allergies and nearly twice the risk of environmental allergies as children with the lowest levels, the findings revealed.

Read more at the NIH's Medlineplus


Coyotes, Not Deer, Linked to Increase in Lyme Disease

Coyotes expanding into new territories across North America may be driving a surge in Lyme disease.

It’s often deer that municipalities blame for raising the risk of human infection with the tick-transmitted Lyme bacteria. Yet records from the past three decades link rising numbers of Lyme cases not with booming deer populations but with spreading coyotes, says ecologist Taal Levi, now at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y.

Read more about coyotes and the spread of Lyme disease at


Diesel Fumes More Carcinogenic than Secondhand Cigarette Smoke


Diesel fumes cause lung cancer, the World Health Organizationdeclared Tuesday, and experts said they were more carcinogenic than secondhand cigarette smoke.

The W.H.O. decision, the first to elevate diesel to the “known carcinogen” level, may eventually affect some American workers who are heavily exposed to exhaust. It is particularly relevant to poor countries, where trucks, generators, and farm and factory machinery routinely belch clouds of sooty smoke and fill the air with sulfurous particulates.

The United States and other wealthy nations have less of a problem because they require modern diesel engines to burn much cleaner than they did even a decade ago. Most industries, like mining, already have limits on the amount of diesel fumes to which workers may be exposed.

The medical director of the American Cancer Society praised the ruling by the W.H.O.’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, saying his group “has for a long time had concerns about diesel.”

The cancer society is likely to come to the same conclusion the next time its scientific committee meets, said the director, Dr. Otis W. Brawley.

“I don’t think it’s bad to have a diesel car,” Dr. Brawley added. “I don’t think it’s good to breathe its exhaust. I’m not concerned about people who walk past a diesel vehicle, I’m a little concerned about people like toll collectors, and I’m very concerned about people like miners, who work where exhaust is concentrated.”

Read more about Deisel exhaust and cancer.