Dr. Bray Links

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Young people more likely to develop bowel cancer

Unprecedented numbers of young people are being diagnosed with bowel cancer - due to poor diets and lack of exercise, a study warns.

Millennials - those born between 1980 and 1995 - are four times more likely to develop rectal tumors stemming from the large intestine compared to those born around 1950.

An alarming three in ten rectal cancer diagnoses are now in patients below the age of 55. Young people are also at twice the risk of developing colon tumors, which start growing lower down. 

And yet, these diseases are still widely thought of as something that hits after middle age.  

The study warns the data should be a warning sign that this generation faces an epidemic of digestive diseases - and suggests we begin screening people in their early 20s, rather than in their 60s.


Monday, February 27, 2017

Biological LED lighting?

The GoodNight® LED light bulb, originally developed for NASA astronauts on the International Space Station, lets melatonin do its thing and helps to regulate your body's natural circadian rhythm. So when you’re ready to sleep, your body is too.

Supports your body's natural melatonin production - a hormone necessary for a good night sleep.

Regular light bulbs suppress melatonin and emits less of the awake hours "blue sky" waves.

Helps to promote a healthy circadian rhythm by assisting you in falling asleep faster, staying asleep longer, and getting a more restful night sleep.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Opioid misuse often starts at the dentist’s office

According to a JAMA study deaths from opioid overdose have quadrupled from 1999 to 2010. Many of those cases are teens. The American Dental Association recently reported that misuse often begins in the dentist's chair


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Testosterone for Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder?

The objective of the International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health expert consensus panel was to develop a concise, clinically relevant, evidence-based review of the epidemiology, physiology, pathogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment of hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), a sexual dysfunction affecting approximately 10% of adult women. Etiologic factors include conditions or drugs that decrease brain dopamine, melanocortin, oxytocin, and norepinephrine levels and augment brain serotonin, endocannabinoid, prolactin, and opioid levels. Symptoms include lack or loss of motivation to participate in sexual activity due to absent or decreased spontaneous desire, sexual desire in response to erotic cues or stimulation, or ability to maintain desire or interest through sexual activity for at least 6 months, with accompanying distress. Treatment follows a biopsychosocial model and is guided by history and assessment of symptoms. Sex therapy has been the standard treatment, although there is a paucity of studies assessing efficacy, except for mindfulness-based cognitive behavior therapy. Bupropion and buspirone may be considered off-label treatments for HSDD, despite limited safety and efficacy data. Menopausal women with HSDD may benefit from off-label testosterone treatment, as evidenced by multiple clinical trials reporting some efficacy and short-term safety. Currently, flibanserin is the only Food and Drug Administration–approved medication to treat premenopausal women with generalized acquired HSDD. Based on existing data, we hypothesize that all these therapies alter central inhibitory and excitatory pathways. In conclusion, HSDD significantly affects quality of life in women and can effectively be managed by health care providers with appropriate assessments and individualized treatments.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Retinol and Cancer Prevention

High consumption of fruit and vegetables rich in carotenoids may help prevent cancer (1–4). β-Carotene, a nutrient in fruit and vegetables, can be metabolized into vitamin A, through the conversion of β-carotene into retinaldehyde by β,β-carotene 15,15′-monooxygenase (BCMO15 EC, also known as BCDO1; cloned as BCMO1). This enzyme is present in the intestine, liver, and other tissues (5–8). Retinaldehyde, the enzyme product, can be metabolized to retinol (vitamin A) or retinoic acid. One mechanism by which carotenoids exert their antitumor effects is through retinoic acid–mediated inhibition of tumor cell invasion and metastasis. Invasion of tumor cells into a new tissue requires the digestion of and migration through extracellular matrix (ECM). Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) digest ECM components, which allows tumors to invade and form metastases (9). Human MMPs constitute a superfamily of zinc-dependent endopeptidases classified by their structure and substrate (10, 11). MMP7 (matrilysin) has been reported to be overexpressed in 80% of colorectal cancers; it may be important in early tumor growth and in invasion and metastasis (12–16). MMP28 (epilysin) expression is increased in some tumors and cancer cell lines (17, 18). 


Biochemical evidence for the tyrosine involvement in cationic intermediate stabilization in mouse β-carotene 15, 15'-monooxygenase

In BCMO1 knockout mice, disruption in BCMO1 leads to hypercarotenemia on a provitamin A-rich, vitamin A-deficient diet and also to changes in lipid metabolism and susceptibility to diet-induced obesity [9]. Pathological effects of mutations in BCMO1 [10] have also been described in humans. Therefore, the catalytic mechanism for this enzyme is of particular interest.


Beta-carotene 15,15'-monooxygenase - Wikipedia

In general, carnivores are poor converters of ionone-containing carotenoids, and pure carnivores such as cats and ferrets lack beta-carotene 15,15'-monooxygenase and cannot convert any carotenoids to retinal (resulting in none of the carotenoids being forms of vitamin A for these species). They must have preformed vitamin A in their diet.


Monday, February 20, 2017

This underwear might protect your junk from cellphones

With studies revealing significantly lower sperm counts in men who put mobile phones in their pockets, French company Spartan set out to create a solution.

And after raising $26,250 through an Indiegogo campaign, the "Spartan boxer brief" was born.

The company claims the underwear is able to block more than 99 percent of mobile phone and Wi-Fi radiation.

"In order to effectively block the radiation emitted from our wireless device, we had to develop a unique hi-tech fabric," the company wrote.

"We did this by incorporating pure silver fibres into our cotton weave, which together act as an electromagnetic shielding, preventing radiation from reaching your genitalia.


The decay of Redox-stress Response Capacity is a substantive characteristic of aging

Aging is tightly associated with redox events. The free radical theory of aging indicates that redox imbalance may be an important factor in the aging process. Most studies about redox and aging focused on the static status of oxidative stress levels, there has been little research investigating differential responses to redox challenge during aging. In this study, we used Caenorhabditis elegans and human fibroblasts as models to compare differential responses to oxidative stress challenge in young and old individuals. In response to paraquat stress, young individuals generated more ROS and activated signaling pathways including p-ERK, p-AKT and p-AMPKα/β. After the initial response, young individuals then promoted NRF2 translocation and induced additional antioxidant enzymes and higher expression of phase II enzymes, including SOD, CAT, GPX, HO-1, GSTP-1and others, to maintain redox homeostasis. Moreover, young individuals also demonstrated a better ability to degrade damaged proteins by up-regulating the expression of chaperones and improving proteasome activity. Based on these data, we propose a new concept "Redox-stress Response Capacity (RRC)", which suggests cells or organisms are capable of generating dynamic redox responses to activate cellular signaling and maintain cellular homeostasis. The decay of RRC is the substantive characteristic of aging, which gives a new understand of the redox theory of aging.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Using CRISPR Cas9 to cure sickle cell disease

A team of physicians and laboratory scientists has taken a key step toward a cure for sickle cell disease, using CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing to fix the mutated gene responsible for the disease in stem cells from the blood of affected patients.

For the first time, they have corrected the mutation in a proportion of stem cells that is high enough to produce a substantial benefit in sickle cell patients.

The researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, UC San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI) and the University of Utah School of Medicine hope to re-infuse patients with the edited stem cells and alleviate symptoms of the disease, which primarily afflicts those of African descent and leads to anemia, painful blood blockages and early death.

“We’re very excited about the promise of this technology,” said Jacob Corn, a senior author on the study and scientific director of the Innovative Genomics Initiative at UC Berkeley. “There is still a lot of work to be done before this approach might be used in the clinic, but we’re hopeful that it will pave the way for new kinds of treatment for patients with sickle cell disease.”

In tests in mice, the genetically engineered stem cells stuck around for at least four months after transplantation, an important benchmark to ensure that any potential therapy would be lasting.

“This is an important advance because for the first time we show a level of correction in stem cells that should be sufficient for a clinical benefit in persons with sickle cell anemia,” said co-author Mark Walters, a pediatric hematologist and oncologist and director of UCSF Benioff Oakland’s Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program.

Sickle cell disease is a recessive genetic disorder caused by a single mutation in both copies of a gene coding for beta-globin, a protein that forms part of the oxygen-carrying molecule hemoglobin. This homozygous defect causes hemoglobin molecules to stick together, deforming red blood cells into a characteristic “sickle” shape. These misshapen cells get stuck in blood vessels, causing blockages, anemia, pain, organ failure and significantly shortened lifespan. Sickle cell disease is particularly prevalent in African Americans and the sub-Saharan African population, affecting hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.

The goal of the multi-institutional team is to develop genome engineering-based methods for correcting the disease-causing mutation in each patient’s own stem cells to ensure that new red blood cells are healthy.

The team used CRISPR-Cas9 to correct the disease-causing mutation in hematopoietic stem cells – precursor cells that mature into red blood cells – isolated from whole blood of sickle cell patients. The corrected cells produced healthy hemoglobin, which mutated cells do not make at all. (cont'd)

For the full story: http://news.berkeley.edu/2016/10/12/genome-engineering-paves-way-for-sickle-cell-cure/

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

What is the Autoimmune Paleo Diet?

The Autoimmune Protocol is a diet that helps heal the immune system and gut mucosa. It is applicable to any inflammatory disease.

We have a problem in this country with how we eat, treat disease and heal disease. AIP addresses inflammation in the gut that causes Autoimmune Disease. Autoimmune disease is a condition where the body cannot tell the difference between healthy tissue and foreign invaders and a hypersensitive reaction occurs. The body starts self-tissue attack. For months or perhaps years, this self-tissue attack can occur silently until full blown autoimmune disease develops. There are more than 80 types of "official" autoimmune disorders (and MANY more being discovered daily) but all autoimmune disease have in common is tissue self-attacking in places like the thyroid gland, brain tissue or salivary glands, to name a few.

The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diet works to reduce inflammation in the intestines. Many elimination diets are not complete enough and often do not remove immune triggers that promote inflammation in the gut. AIP works to calm inflammation in the gut and also calm inflammation in the body. And while autoimmune disease can never be cured, it can be put into remission. The AIP diet is geared toward healing the intestinal mucosa and supporting low inflammation in the body that can temper the fires of an autoimmune flare-up. First I would like to say that this is our interpretation. There is more than one interpretation of how to "follow" the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diet. I call it a lifestyle because in a modified form it is how I eat and live my life. It is also how I recommend my autoimmune clients to eat in their own modified form long term as well.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Nutella Makers Defend Palm Oil Amid Health Concerns

Ferrero is the first major European food company to defend the palm oil industry following reports that refined palm oil in foods may cause cancer. The Italian company ran television commercials and took out full-page newspaper advertisements to reassure consumers that it is safe to eat Nutella, which contains palm oil. Other Italian food companies have removed palm oil from their products.

Palm oil has been flagged by several European authorities as a potential cancer risk. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reported that palm oil generates more of a potentially carcinogenic contaminant than any other vegetable oil when refined at temperatures of 200°C (392°F). The World Health Organisation (WHO) also flagged the risk. Neither organization has advised people to stop eating palm oil. The EFSA said further research is needed to assess the risk.

"Making Nutella without palm oil would produce an inferior substitute for the real product; it would be a step backward," Vincenzo Tapella, Ferrero's purchasing manager told Reuters. In the pro-palm oil television commercial filmed at Ferrero's Alba factory, Tapella claims, "The palm oil used by Ferrero is safe because it comes from freshly squeezed fruits and is processed at controlled temperatures." Palm oil is the ingredient that gives Nutella its smooth texture and extends its shelf life.


Monday, February 13, 2017

Air Pollution 'a Catalyst' for Obesity, Diabetes in Children

Among obese, disadvantaged Latino children, greater exposure to air pollution was associated with an adverse effect on glucose homeostasis markers that reflect risk of type 2 diabetes, in a new study.

Specifically, in this study of children who were 8 to 15 at entry and followed for a mean of 3.5 years, exposure to higher levels of air pollution was linked with lower insulin sensitivity, a decline in beta-cell function, and a higher body mass index (BMI) at age 18 — independent of initial excess weight.

The study by Tanya L Alderete, PhD, University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles, and colleagues was published online January 30 in Diabetes.

"It has been the conventional wisdom that [the current] increase in diabetes is the result of an uptick in obesity due to sedentary lifespans and calorie-dense diets," senior author Frank Gilliland, MD, from the Keck School of Medicine, USC, said in a statement. However, "our study shows air pollution also contributes to type 2 diabetes risk."

"Importantly," the adverse effects of air pollution on insulin homeostasis, insulin sensitivity, and beta-cell function were independent of adiposity, Dr Alderete and colleagues stress.


Saturday, February 11, 2017

Primary Care ... from eyes of Jamie Katuna, med student

Jamie Katuna:: Here’s the thing: I think the majority of information around healthcare and medicine is dry and boring. It can be difficult to decipher, making it inaccessible to a large portion of the population. But, there are creative geniuses within the healthcare system in need of a outlet; and there is an audience outside the healthcare system ready to engage. I want to produce and share creative messages regarding medicine. Promote accessibility. Promote progressiveness. Take a subject so often approached with calculated thought and turn it into something beautiful, something meaningful, something amazing. The next healthcare revolution will be dependent on people working together – and working together can only be a result of successful communication. Creativity is something that encourages thoughtful and accessible communication. Portraying medical concepts in a creative way will be a crucial asset to the future of medicine.

Keep in mind: Physician live 20 years LESS than the average American. We simply don't take care of our own health appropriately.

Primary Treatment of Crohn's Disease

Given the poor activity of classic anti-tuberculous agents against Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis (MAP), and their lack of intracellular access, where MAP is located, new antimycobacterial agents with intracellular activity against MAP, alone and in combination, were slowly introduced with improving results. Employing a combination of rifampicin, ethambutol, isoniazid and pyrazinamide or clofazimine for 9 months, Hampson et al. reported that 10 out of 20 CD patients (50%) achieved remission by 9 months.[35] Of the remaining ten, three had achieved remission by 6 months but had relapsed. Nine out of ten patients (90%) on steroids were weaned off by 9 months


Treatment of Crohn's Disease With an Antibiotic Regimen Directed Against Mycobacterium Avium Paratuberculosis

Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the gastrointestinal tract. The origin of Crohn's disease remains unknown and there is no curative therapy, either medical or surgical, for this gut disorder.

It is believed that an infectious agent is important in the development of Crohn's disease. The similarity of Crohn's disease to the animal form of ileitis, termed Johne's disease, supports the possibility that both disorders are caused by exposure to Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis or MAP. Multiple investigators have demonstrated good clinical responses of patients with Crohn's disease to treatment with triple antibiotic therapy directed against mycobacterial infection.

The hypothesis of this protocol is that triple antibiotic therapy is useful as a medical therapy for patients with Crohn's disease. The aim of this study is to examine the response of patients with Crohn's disease who are not receiving therapy with biological agents to triple antibiotic therapy.


Thursday, February 9, 2017

'Clear Crisis in Cancer Prevention Awareness,' Says AICR

Many Americans remain unaware of key risk factors for cancer, despite the fact that these risk factors can be reduced by making lifestyle changes, says the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR).

Reporting results from its latest survey of awareness among the general public, the group notes that fewer than half of the respondents were aware of well-established lifestyle-related risk factors for cancer, including inactivity, consumption of alcohol, diets high in red meat, diets low in vegetables and fruits, and consumption of processed meats.

In contrast, the vast majority (87%) of respondents believed that genetic disposition had a significant effect on whether or not the average person will develop cancer.

In reality, an estimated 90% to 95% of cancers develop in individuals who lack these genes, the AICR notes.


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Drug Trend Report Executive Summary | Express Scripts

At Express Scripts, we put medicine within reach – making it more accessible and affordable for the employers and patients we serve. It's why we exist.

In a year where the high cost of prescription medications dominated headlines, Express Scripts delivered value beyond and practiced pharmacy smarter, protecting employers and patients by driving down costs and improving outcomes.

Our country needs affordable medicines, and Express Scripts is best positioned to deliver them. The proof is in the data. Download the 2016 Drug Trend Report Executive Summary.


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Real Mediterranean Diet - Dr. Christopher Bray

Presented in Winston-Salem, NC on Feb 4, 2017 by Dr. Christopher Bray. Here we discuss the history and key elements of the Mediterranean Diet. You will discover that some key elements of the diet have been perhaps overemphasized and other important elements have been completely ignored. The translation of the beneficial elements of the diet into current U.S. recommendations needs to be reconsidered.

Pollution in Minority Newborns

The Environmental Working Group, in partnership with Rachel’s Network, commissioned five laboratories in the U.S., Canada, and Europe to analyze umbilical cord blood collected from 10 minority infants born in 2007 and 2008. Collectively, the laboratories identified up to 232 industrial compounds and pollutants in these babies, finding complex mixtures of compounds in each infant.

This research demonstrates that industrial chemicals cross the placenta in large numbers to contaminate a baby before the moment of birth. Test results are shown below.


Monday, February 6, 2017

No Meds Needed: Study Finds Doing This Eases Anxiety

Pharmaceutical companies may need a dose of their own medications. A new study finds the best treatment for anxiety may not come from your local pharmacy, but rather a quiet room in your home.

The study, published in the Jan. 24 edition of Psychiatry Research, confirmed that eight-weeks of mindfulness meditation can be crucially beneficial for those who suffer from anxiety.

Researchers from the Georgetown University Medical Center selected 89 people who suffer from generalized anxiety disorder to undergo one of two different forms of treatment. One group took an eight-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course, which centered around meditation, and then determined whether or not it helped them relax. Those in the control group took an eight-week stress management education course, which centers more on habits such as diet, sleep, and general wellness.


Mindfulness-Based interventions have increased in popularity in psychiatry, but the impact of these treatments on disorder-relevant biomarkers would greatly enhance efficacy and mechanistic evidence. If Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is successfully treated, relevant biomarkers should change, supporting the impact of treatment and suggesting improved resilience to stress. Seventy adults with GAD were randomized to receive either Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or an attention control class; before and after, they underwent the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST). Area-Under-the-Curve (AUC) concentrations were calculated for adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and pro-inflammatory cytokines. MBSR participants had a significantly greater reduction in ACTH AUC compared to control participants. Similarly, the MBSR group had a greater reduction in inflammatory cytokines’ AUC concentrations. We found larger reductions in stress markers for patients with GAD in the MBSR class compared to control; this provides the first combined hormonal and immunological evidence that MBSR may enhance resilience to stress.



Having problems with too much estrogen despite having a normal BMI and low alcohol intake? Consider xenoestrogens when heavy menstrual bleeding or fibroids are a problem.

Here are some of the chemicals that are xenoestrogens:


  • 4-Methylbenzylidene camphor (4-MBC) (sunscreen lotions)
  • Parabens (methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben commonly used as a preservative)
  • Benzophenone (sunscreen lotions)

Industrial products and Plastics:

  • Bisphenol A (monomer for polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resin; antioxidant in plasticizers)
  • Phthalates (plasticizers)
  • DEHP (plasticizer for PVC)
  • Polybrominated biphenyl ethers (PBDEs) (flame retardants used in plastics, foams, building materials, electronics, furnishings, motor vehicles).
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)


  • Erythrosine / FD&C Red No. 3
  • Phenosulfothiazine (a red dye)
  • Butylated hydroxyanisole / BHA (food preservative)

Building supplies:

  • Pentachlorophenol (general biocide and wood preservative)
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls / PCBs (in electrical oils, lubricants, adhesives, paints)


  • Atrazine (weed killer)
  • DDT (insecticide, banned)
  • Dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (one of the breakdown products of DDT)
  • Dieldrin (insecticide)
  • Endosulfan (insecticide)
  • Heptachlor (insecticide)
  • Lindane / hexachlorocyclohexane (insecticide, used to treat lice and scabies)
  • Methoxychlor (insecticide)
  • Fenthion
  • Nonylphenol and derivatives (industrial surfactants; emulsifiers for emulsion polymerization; laboratory detergents; pesticides)
  • Other:
    • Propyl gallate
    • Chlorine and chlorine by-products
    • Ethinylestradiol (combined oral contraceptive pill)
    • Metalloestrogens (a class of inorganic xenoestrogens)
    • Alkylphenol (surfactant used in cleaning detergents

Chocolate is good for you ... right?

Yes chocolate is usually good for you, but not these chocolates...

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) – Princeton University found that HFCs commonly found in candy prompts considerably more weight gain than conventional sugars and is linked to obesity. The latest statistics are startling and show that 42% of us will be obese by 2030 and obesity will be the leading preventable cause of death in America by 2019. We must do everything we can to stop this slippery slope by not consuming chemically refined sugars that make us eat more than we should.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) – We don’t know for sure how much of these candy brand products are genetically modified since they are currently not required to be labeled in this U.S.A. (Hopefully that will change soon if Prop 37 passes in California!) But we do know that the consumption of GMO foods poses a serious threat to our health and has been linked to toxicity, cancer, allergic reactions and fertility issues. It’s really hard to find a chocolate these days without the ingredient “soy lecithin,” which helps keep chocolate smooth and together. Unfortunately soy is one of the most common crops to be genetically modified. And even the sugar that chocolate contains can be from genetically modified sugar beets! When buying any chocolate (or anything in general), remember to read the label just to make sure all ingredients are listed organic or Non-GMO Project verified to avoid GMO’s.

Growth Hormone – Chocolate usually contains dairy, which means that unless it’s organic chocolate, you are likely consuming milk from cows that have been conventionally raised with antibiotics and growth hormones. rBGH is a GMO found in cheap conventional dairy products that many of these chocolate brands use to make their milk chocolate. That means that by simply eating a piece of chocolate you or your family could be ingesting a substance that in excess levels has been reported to cause breast, colon and prostate cancers.

Partially Hydrogenated Oils (a.k.a. Trans Fat) – The 4th ingredient in Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Mint is partially hydrogenated soybean oil. This is alarming because trans fat has been shown to be deadly even in small amounts. “Previous trials have linked even a 40-calorie-per-day increase in trans fat intake to a 23% higher risk of heart disease.” 40 calories is a mere 2% of a typical 2000 calorie per day diet – and could easily be the amount of trans fat found in many types of chocolate.

Artificial Colors – We’ve discussed artificial food coloring a lot before, but I think it needs a little more air time, considering we are talking about chocolate – a substance that is usually white, brown, or dark brown and doesn’t actually need coloring! I was floored to find coloring in Godiva’s 8 piece gold box and Russell Stover’s pecan clusters. When companies manufacture chocolates using chemical fillers and fake ingredients that don’t have natural colors, they have to add color to trick our senses into making us think we are eating something real. The most widely used dyes are contaminated with known carcinogens, linked to cancer and known to cause hyperactivity in children. Also, watch out for “caramel coloring” that may sound natural but is not. It’s often manufactured by heating ammonia and sulfites under high pressure, which creates carcinogenic compounds that are also linked to cancer.

Artificial Flavors – Thousands of secret food chemicals can be hidden under the label “artificial flavors.” Some of these chemicals are actually never reviewed by the FDA because they are used in such a small amount. Food company scientists develop ways to use chemically derived ingredients that turn on and off certain taste buds depending upon the end goal – changing something from bitter to sweet, and so on. Allowing artificial flavors in your diet gives these scientists the ability to mess with your senses and trick you to like, eat, and buy more fake food than you would otherwise.


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals: What to Tell Your Patients

Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals: What to Tell Your Patients
Deborah M. Kurrasch, PhD
Dr. Kurrasch (kurrasch@ucalgary.ca) is an associate professor in the Department of Medical Genetics at the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary. She is also a scientist in the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute.

Within the long list of synthetic chemicals, Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) is a subgroup that receives (and deservedly so) considerable attention. By definition, any chemical that can interfere with our endocrine system and adversely impact any aspect of hormone action is considered an EDC. Also referred to as hormone-disruptors, these chemicals mimic or antagonize normal hormone signaling to produce adverse effects on development, reproduction, and immune signaling, among other physiologies. Although hundreds of man-made and natural substances can cause endocrine disruption, there are several classes that are especially studied, including plasticizers (e.g., bisphenol A, phthalates), pesticides (e.g., DDT and atrazine), dioxin and dioxin-like compounds (e.g., TCDD), and polychlorinated/polybrominated biphenyls (e.g., PCBs). Combined, these EDCs have been found in a wide array of consumer products, such as plastic bottles, detergents, flame retardants, food, toys, cosmetics, pesticides, and metal food cans.


In support of these conclusions, a recent report in the Lancet estimates that the United States spends more than $340 billion each year on health care related to EDC exposure and that almost 13 million IQ points are lost due to hormone-disrupting chemicals.2 The authors warn that flame retardant chemicals (PBDEs) are the worst culprits, causing $268 billion in health care spending and the loss of 11 million IQ points. As a reference, despite the population of the European Union being nearly twice that of the United States, the authors estimate that health care costs for PBDEs to be only $12.6 billion, demonstrating a sharp improvement in health when PBDEs are not widely used in consumer products. Finally, the authors opine that 4,400 cases of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and about 1,500 cases of autism per year can be attributed to exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals.


Air Pollution as a Cause of Cardiovascular Disease

Air Pollution as a Cause of Cardiovascular Disease: Looking beyond Traditional Risk Factors
Coralynn S. Sack, MD
Dr. Sack is a fellow in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University of Washington.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that air pollution is responsible for an estimated 7 million deaths per year worldwide.1 Although the link between respiratory illnesses and air pollution is well known, the majority of these deaths are attributed to cardiovascular disease. Exposure to air pollution may be responsible for as much as 7% of nonfatal myocardial infarctions and 18% of sudden cardiac deaths.2 No safe thresholds have been estab-lished, and even present-day concentrations in the United States are associated with increased mortality.