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STEMconnector : @STEMConnector

@McGillOSS - Wed, 09/02/2015 - 11:09
Meet @JoeSchwarcz- Dir. of @McGillOSS & Host of the Dr. Joe Show at in Saskatoon, Canada on 9/27-29! http://bit.ly/1O8L7CR 

Science & Society : @McGillOSS

@McGillOSS - Fri, 08/28/2015 - 20:50
You Asked: Should we be concerned about parabens in cosmetics? http://ow.ly/33m5AG 

You Asked: Should we be concerned about parabens in cosmetics?

You Asked? - Fri, 08/28/2015 - 10:30

Not if you look at the numbers. Many cosmetics now advertise "no parabens," as they cater to chemical paranoia. Parabens are very effective preservatives and prevent bacterial growth in creams and lotions. The reason that they have made news is that they have estrogenic activity. But the fact is that this activity by comparison to the body's natural estrogen is essentially insignificant, some 10,000 times less. Based on studies carried out with animals, the no observed adverse effect level (NOAEL) has been determined to be about 800 mgs per kg of body mass. The NOAEL is the maximum amount that can be given on a regular basis without causing any effect. This means that a 70 kg person would have to apply 55 grams of parabens regularly to have an adverse effect, assuming that it is all absorbed when applied to the skin, which of course is not the case. And how much cream does this translate to? Given that the most parabens used as a preservative makes up about 0.8% of the weight of a lotion, a quick calculation shows that about 70 bottles each containing 100 mL each would have to be applied to the skin every day to approach the NOAEL. Basically, parabens "toxicity" is a non-issue. And not that this is of any relevance, but parabens occur in nature. They are found in blueberries as well as in the secretions female dogs use to attract males.

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You Asked: Should we be concerned about parabens in cosmetics?

Our OSS Blog - Fri, 08/28/2015 - 10:30

Not if you look at the numbers. Many cosmetics now advertise "no parabens," as they cater to chemical paranoia. Parabens are very effective preservatives and prevent bacterial growth in creams and lotions. The reason that they have made news is that they have estrogenic activity. But the fact is that this activity by comparison to the body's natural estrogen is essentially insignificant, some 10,000 times less. Based on studies carried out with animals, the no observed adverse effect level (NOAEL) has been determined to be about 800 mgs per kg of body mass. The NOAEL is the maximum amount that can be given on a regular basis without causing any effect. This means that a 70 kg person would have to apply 55 grams of parabens regularly to have an adverse effect, assuming that it is all absorbed when applied to the skin, which of course is not the case. And how much cream does this translate to? Given that the most parabens used as a preservative makes up about 0.8% of the weight of a lotion, a quick calculation shows that about 70 bottles each containing 100 mL each would have to be applied to the skin every day to approach the NOAEL. Basically, parabens "toxicity" is a non-issue. And not that this is of any relevance, but parabens occur in nature. They are found in blueberries as well as in the secretions female dogs use to attract males.

Read more

Science & Society : @McGillOSS

@McGillOSS - Tue, 08/25/2015 - 08:48
You Asked: Is it True That People Who Drink Tea Live Longer Longer ? http://ow.ly/33bC65 

You Asked: Is it True That People Who Drink Tea Live Longer Longer ?

You Asked? - Tue, 08/25/2015 - 08:17

Drink tea to live longer? Newspaper headlines may have said that, but, that is not exactly what the study they were referring to said. Nevertheless it is an interesting study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a highly respected peer-reviewed publication. The study evaluated intake of flavonoids in an elderly Australian female population through food frequency questionnaires. Flavonoids constitute a huge class of compounds found in plants, members of which are linked through a basic molecular structure they share. The reason for interest in these compounds is that laboratory experiments have shown possible anti-allergenic, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer,-anti-heart disease and antioxidant effects. Although, there is a dearth of studies in people using isolated flavonoids, it is generally assumed that the benefits ascribed to eating fruits and vegetables may be due to their flavonoid content.

One way to get a handle on possible flavonoid benefits is to see if there is any connection between estimated flavonoid intake and health status. The best measure of health status is longevity. Two data bases of flavonoid content of foods were used to estimate intake of these compounds in the diets of over a thousand women with an average age of 80 who were followed for five years. Indeed, subjects who consumed the most flavonoids, 800 mgs or so a day, lived longer than women whose intake was less than 500 mgs whether the eventual cause of death was cancer or heart disease. In this population the major source of flavonoids was tea, about 350 mg for two cups, but there is no reason to believe that flavonoids in tea are in any way different from those found in berries, onions, bananas, cocoa, wine, citrus fruits, parsley or peanut skins. What all these have in common is that they are plant products, so this study reinforces the notion that our diet should be mostly plant based.

There are the usual caveats with such a study, the classic one being that an association cannot prove cause and effect. Although attempts were made to correct for confounders such as body weight and physical activity level, it is still possible that other components of the diet that parallel flavonoid intake are responsible for the noted difference in longevity. Then there is the usual problem that food frequency questionnaires may not accurately reflect food intake because of memory and honesty issues. But if flavonoids are really players in the good health game, which is likely, it is interesting to note that the average North American intake is only about 300 mgs which is considerably less than that of the longest lived subjects in this study. For a ballpark idea, an apple, a cup of blueberries or a cup of tea are all in the 150 mg flavonoid content range. So while tea may not be the elixir of life, a couple of cups a day are an easy way to increase flavonoid intake. There is no downside. Unless you load it up with sugar as is the case with many canned and bottled teas. Make your tea at home, add a dose of lemon juice if you like, but leave out the sugar. It may not make you live longer but it will make life a little more pleasant.

Read more

You Asked: Is it True That People Who Drink Tea Live Longer Longer ?

Our OSS Blog - Tue, 08/25/2015 - 08:17

Drink tea to live longer? Newspaper headlines may have said that, but, that is not exactly what the study they were referring to said. Nevertheless it is an interesting study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a highly respected peer-reviewed publication. The study evaluated intake of flavonoids in an elderly Australian female population through food frequency questionnaires. Flavonoids constitute a huge class of compounds found in plants, members of which are linked through a basic molecular structure they share. The reason for interest in these compounds is that laboratory experiments have shown possible anti-allergenic, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer,-anti-heart disease and antioxidant effects. Although, there is a dearth of studies in people using isolated flavonoids, it is generally assumed that the benefits ascribed to eating fruits and vegetables may be due to their flavonoid content.

One way to get a handle on possible flavonoid benefits is to see if there is any connection between estimated flavonoid intake and health status. The best measure of health status is longevity. Two data bases of flavonoid content of foods were used to estimate intake of these compounds in the diets of over a thousand women with an average age of 80 who were followed for five years. Indeed, subjects who consumed the most flavonoids, 800 mgs or so a day, lived longer than women whose intake was less than 500 mgs whether the eventual cause of death was cancer or heart disease. In this population the major source of flavonoids was tea, about 350 mg for two cups, but there is no reason to believe that flavonoids in tea are in any way different from those found in berries, onions, bananas, cocoa, wine, citrus fruits, parsley or peanut skins. What all these have in common is that they are plant products, so this study reinforces the notion that our diet should be mostly plant based.

There are the usual caveats with such a study, the classic one being that an association cannot prove cause and effect. Although attempts were made to correct for confounders such as body weight and physical activity level, it is still possible that other components of the diet that parallel flavonoid intake are responsible for the noted difference in longevity. Then there is the usual problem that food frequency questionnaires may not accurately reflect food intake because of memory and honesty issues. But if flavonoids are really players in the good health game, which is likely, it is interesting to note that the average North American intake is only about 300 mgs which is considerably less than that of the longest lived subjects in this study. For a ballpark idea, an apple, a cup of blueberries or a cup of tea are all in the 150 mg flavonoid content range. So while tea may not be the elixir of life, a couple of cups a day are an easy way to increase flavonoid intake. There is no downside. Unless you load it up with sugar as is the case with many canned and bottled teas. Make your tea at home, add a dose of lemon juice if you like, but leave out the sugar. It may not make you live longer but it will make life a little more pleasant.

Read more

Could the Food Babe for once be on the right track?

Our OSS Blog - Tue, 08/25/2015 - 08:14
Even a clock that doesn't work is right twice a day. A blind squirrel sometimes finds an acorn. And the Food Babe sometimes flirts with the truth. She has organized ridiculous petitions against azodicarbonamide in Subway rolls and caramel coloring in beverages. But now she has taken up the scimitar to wield against antibiotics in animal feed. Her target once again is Subway and she wants the company to use only meat from animals grown without antibiotics. Of course her knowledge about antibiotics is the same as about all other scientific matters, which is basically zero. Nevertheless this time she has jumped on the right train. Here is a piece I wrote a couple of years ago on this issue; it is still current. By and large, drugs don’t cure disease. They may lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, alleviate pain, restore hormone levels, help control diabetes or treat erectile dysfunction, but they don’t solve the underlying problem. Except for antibiotics! If the diagnosis is bacterial infection, the right antibiotic will be curative. At least for now. But the future for these wonder drugs is more murky. “Antibiotic resistance” is becoming a huge concern. Bacteria, like humans, are biochemically unique. Expose a group of people to the cold virus and they will not all come down with a cold. Obviously the capacity of the immune system to deal with foreign intruders varies from person to person. Similarly, some bacteria can survive the onslaught of antibiotics and then pass their protective genes on to their progeny. The result then is a bacterial population that is resistant to the original antibiotic. Such resistance is an inevitable consequence of the use of antibiotics, and the only protection we have against it is the wise use of these powerful drugs. Unfortunately, we have not always been wise. As pharmaceutical companies successfully developed a wide array of antibiotics, our attitude was that if resistance to one crops up, another will be available to take its place. Until now, this has mostly proven to be so, but the antibiotic cupboard is becoming bare. And there have even been a few chilling reports of resistance to vancomycin, the antibiotic of last resort. Simply stated, the more an antibiotic is used, the less likely that it will maintain its effectiveness. Given that the Center for Disease Control in the U.S. estimates one third of all antibiotic prescriptions are inappropriate, it is evident that we face a huge problem. Physicians are recognizing this and are becoming less cavalier about prescribing antibiotics. But there is another issue. Although the numbers are somewhat debatable, roughly 25 of the 28 million pounds of antibiotics produced annually in North America are not destined for human use. Instead they are given to hogs, poultry and cattle, in most cases, not to cure them of disease, but to promote their growth! Since the late 1940s, so-called “subtherapeutic” doses of antibiotics have been routinely added to animal feed to prevent disease and to increase feed efficiency. Exactly why animals put on weight more readily when exposed to small doses of antibiotics isn’t clear, but it may have to do with reducing the competition for nutrients by cutting down on the natural bacterial population in the animals’ gut. Some studies also suggest that antibiotic use thins the intestinal wall and increases nutrient absorption. What has become clear, however, is that such subtherapeutic use of antibiotics leads to the flourishing of antibiotic resistant bacteria in animals and that such bacteria can infect humans. Chickens, for example, will begin to excrete antibiotic-resistant E. coli in their feces just 36 hours after being given tetracycline-laced feed. Within a short time these bacteria also show up in the feces of farmers. And a truly frightening prospect is that bacteria can pass genes between each other, including the ones that make them resistant to antibiotics. This means that bacteria that have never been exposed to an antibiotic can acquire resistance just by encountering resistant ones. Then consider that animals shed bacteria in their feces and that manure is used as fertilizer, and fertilizer gets into ground water, and it quickly becomes evident how the bacterial resistance problem can mushroom. Thorough cooking of course kills bacteria, but the widespread incidence of food poisoning demonstrates that poor food handling and undercooking is common. True, most people who come down with bacterial food poisoning just experience some unpleasant cramps and diarrhea and recover without the need for antibiotic treatment. In this case resistance is not an issue. But there are numerous cases of children, the elderly, or people whose immune system is compromised, who need antibiotic treatment for food poisoning. And now if the bacteria are resistant to antibiotics, these patients can face a dire situation. Take for example the case of an unfortunate Danish woman who died in 1998 after eating Salmonella-infected pork. She failed to respond to ciprofloxacin (Cipro), the usual antibiotic of choice, because of bacterial resistance. In a piece of elegant research, Danish scientists succeeded in genetically matching the Salmonella-resistant strain to a specific pig farm. Surprisingly, these pigs had not been treated with ciprofloxacin, but the pigs on neighbouring farms had been, and the resistant bacteria had moved between farms! In North America antibiotics known as quinolones have been used since 1995 to treat infections in poultry. While this was great for the chickens’ health, it turned out not to be so good for humans. The most common cause of bacterial gastroenteritis in people is Campylobacter jejuni, and poultry is often responsible. If an antibiotic is needed, ciprofloxacin is the usual choice. But since the introduction of quinolones to farm animals, Campylobacter strains resistant to the drug have emerged. The Food and Drug Administration in the U.S. has recognized this as such a serious problem that it has made Baytril, a quinolone, the first veterinary drug to be banned because of the emergence of resistant bacteria. While this is the first action of its kind in North America, Europeans have been phasing out antibiotics in animal feed since the 1980s. Sweden banned the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in 1986 and Swedish farmers responded by improving hygiene on farms and by altering feed composition. They showed that meat can be produced for the consumer at virtually the same cost as with antibiotics. And without a cost to consumers’ health! The European Union has followed suit and on January 1, 2006 banned the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in animal feed. That actually hasn’t resulted in a huge reduction in antibiotic use. While the prophylactic use has decreased, there has been an increase in the therapeutic use of antibiotics in animals because there has been an increase in illness that apparently was being prevented by antibiotics added to feed. Antibiotics are wonderful drugs and we must do all we can to protect their efficacy. While certain uses of antibiotics to treat sick animals are justified, as one scientist who studies antibiotic resistance opined, “Cipro is an essential antibiotic, and we cannot allow its effectiveness to be compromised by squandering it on poultry.” Read more

Ellen Grueter : @ellenSKCanola

@McGillOSS - Thu, 08/20/2015 - 12:46

Science & Society : @McGillOSS

@McGillOSS - Tue, 08/18/2015 - 17:32
Save the Date!! "A Question of Evidence" , , w @DrPaulOffit, @kevinfolta, & @GeoKabat http://ow.ly/i/csXem 

Science & Society : @McGillOSS

@McGillOSS - Mon, 08/17/2015 - 16:59
Can't wait! MT @crackedscience: LIVE on stage Sept 29 2015 2 interview @DrPaulOffit @GeoKabat @KevinFolta https://youtu.be/iQ2LgJpHd6s 

Science & Society : @McGillOSS

@McGillOSS - Mon, 08/17/2015 - 12:57
LIVE recording of The Body of Evidence w @DrPaulOffit, @kevinfolta, @GeoKabat. Join us! Sept 29 12PM http://bit.ly/1ExVESL 

Trish Jordan : @aggiecoolchick

@McGillOSS - Fri, 08/14/2015 - 11:29
Trusing Science: Do You? Yes Trottier Symposium Abstract @KevinFolta. Other Gr8 speakers too @McGillOSS http://kfolta.blogspot.com/2015/08/trottier-symposium-abstract.html …

Science & Society : @McGillOSS

@McGillOSS - Sun, 08/09/2015 - 08:47
Catching some rays could help your heart http://ow.ly/32qJpO 

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