Tag Archives: chemicals

Think before you ink

Thirty-six percent of Americans ages 18-25 have at least one tattoo. Bump the age bracket up to 26-40 and surprisingly, the number jumps to 40 percent. It’s clear that tattoos are breaking out of the realm of rebellious behavior and entering mainstream culture like ear piercing has already done, but that doesn’t mean you should head down to your local ink shop right away. Continue reading Think before you ink

BPA increases anxiety, soy protects

What do water bottles, food cans and paper money all have in common?

They all contain BPA, also known as bisphenol-A. A recent study done on rats by researchers at North Carolina State University shows that exposure to the chemical early in life can affect gene expression in the amygdala, an area of the brain known to process emotions. The study also showed that a diet rich in soy seems to mitigate the harmful effects of exposure to BPA.

About 93 percent of Americans have detectable levels of BPA in their bloodstreams. The chemical has been linked to behavior and brain alterations, alteration of infant prostate glands, breast cancer and early puberty in girls.

Is the BPA in your products doing something to you? Graphic by Brad Wolfla.

This particular study examined how exposure during gestation, lactation, and throughout puberty influenced the rats’ brains and behaviors. Subjects were divided into four groups, the first of which was fed only soy, the second a soy-free diet, the third fed only soy and exposed to BPA, and the fourth fed no soy and exposed to BPA.

The fourth group showed higher levels of anxiety than the others. Researchers think this was due to alterations in two genes, estrogen receptor beta and melanocortin receptor four. Both of these genes are involved in the release of oxytocin, a hormone that influences social behavior and bonding. Altered oxytocin release can cause abnormal social behavior.

The third group  (rats exposed to BPA and fed with soy) did not show increased anxiety. Researchers aren’t certain how soy protects the developing brain, but they hope to find out with future research.

The study was lead by Dr. Heather Patisaul, NC State associate professor of biology, and was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

BPA is found in many products including food containers, water bottles and even epoxy resins; BPA can actually transfer from the containers to the food or drink inside. Rats and mice exposed to BPA in the study were found to have levels of the chemical comparable to what is commonly found in humans.

The study focused on the effects of BPA during early development, and did not provide information regarding the effects of a soy-rich diet in adulthood. Researchers are currently searching for ways that soy can be used to prevent and negate the effects of BPA, but consumers should practice common-sense safety and avoid products likely to contain the chemical. While not all products containing the chemical are marked, some manufacturers cater to health-conscious customers by labeling their products as BPA-free.

Organic foods cause controversy

Everybody knows organic foods are healthier than those pesticide-laden, run-of-the-mill foods, right?  Not so fast.

A recent study done by researchers at Standford University has found that while organic foods do contain less pesticides than conventionally-grown produce, the difference may not have a significant impact on a person’s health. Also surprisingly, the study shows that organic food is not any more nutritious than non-organic food.

Organic fruits, really no different than the rest. Graphic by Brad Wolfla.

Dr. Dena Devata, senior research affiliate at Stanford, commented, “There are many reasons why someone might choose organic foods over conventional foods,” but she also stated that when it comes to personal health, “there isn’t much difference.” Continue reading Organic foods cause controversy