Study: Excessive Cadmium Linked to Higher Risk of Endometrial Cancer

Women who have excessive cadmium in their bodies may be at increased risk for developing endometrial cancer, researchers from the University of Missouri reported in a recent study.

Accounting for 92% of cancers of the uterus, endometrial cancer, or uterine cancer, is the most common type of reproductive cancer in women in the United States. The disease is caused by cells in the endometrium growing out of control.

Cadmium is a “highly persistent” toxic metal which mimics estrogen in the body. According to lead author Jane McElroy, an associate professor in the University of Missouri Medical School’s Department of Family and Community Medicine, and a team of researchers, cadmium builds up in the body over time. It has been linked to “a variety of adverse health effects,” including kidney damage, calcium imbalance, and an increased risk of pancreatic, breast, and endometrial cancer.

Apart from exposure on the job, excess cadmium usually enters the body through 1 of 2 ways: by eating foods that contain the metal, and by smoking tobacco. Smoking tobacco is cadmium’s second port of entry to the body due to the fact that tobacco plants absorb it from the soil. In urine tests, heavy smokers were found to contain twice as much cadmium as non-smokers.’

Related: High Levels of Heavy Metals Found in Popular Chocolate Brands

Cadmium & Cancers

It’s logical to assume cadmium fuels hormone-dependent cancers because the toxic metal has similar effects to that of the female hormone, estrogen.

McElroy explained:

“Endometrial cancer has been associated with estrogen exposure. Because cadmium mimics estrogen, it may lead to an increased growth of the endometrium, contributing to an increased risk of endometrial cancer.”

However, it was the lack of information about the link that led researchers to dig deeper.

Additionally, past studies have suggested that even low levels of cadmium may significantly shorten the protective caps of DNA on the ends of chromosomes, called telomeres. [2]

Telomeres are associated with aging, and shortened telomeres may increase the risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, various age-related conditions, and cancer.

Studying the Link

Researchers gathered data from the cancer registries in Arkansas, Iowa, and Missouri to identify cases of endometrial cancer. Participants included 631 women with a history of endometrial cancer, and 879 women with no history of the disease who served as a control group. [3]

The women completed a 200-question survey about risk factors potentially associated with endometrial cancer. Once the questionnaires were completed, the participants were asked to collect their own urine and saliva samples for the researchers, so they could analyze them for cadmium.

McElroy said:

“When comparing the cadmium levels of the individuals with endometrial cancer to the control group, we found a statistically significant increased risk of the cancer associated with a woman’s cadmium levels. We found the rate of endometrial cancer incidence increased by 22% in individuals with increased cadmium levels.”

More research is necessary to determine how strong the link is between excess cadmium and endometrial cancer, but based on the limited information available, there are some things you can do to limit your cadmium exposure.

McElroy explained:

“We all have cadmium present in our kidneys and livers, but smoking has been shown to more than double a person’s cadmium exposure.

Also, we recommend being attentive to your diet, as certain foods such as shellfish, kidney and liver can contain high levels of cadmium. You don’t necessarily need to cut these from your diet, but eat them in moderation. This is especially true if women have a predisposition to endometrial cancer, such as a family history, diabetes or obesity.”

Moreover, studies have shown that quercetin, an antioxidant compound found in fruits and vegetables like onions and apples, may protect the body against cadmium exposure, while cilantro and chlorella can help the body detox from the substance.

Sources:

[1] Medical News Today

[2] Prevention

[3] Science Daily


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Breastfeeding: A Natural Way to Prevent Endometrial Cancer

Endometrial cancer, otherwise known as uterine cancer, is the fourth most common cancer in women in high-income countries, including the United States, Canada, and Australia. There’s no shortage of things you shouldn’t do if you want to avoid cancer, such as using tobacco or drinking alcohol. As some research points out, another thing women can do to lower their risk of endometrial cancer is to breastfeed their babies.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that women exclusively breastfeed for the first 6 months of their child’s life and then continue to do so after introducing solid food to their baby. The United Nations also notes how ‘breastfeeding is directly linked to reducing the death toll of children under five,’ encouraging women around the world to breastfeed.

Susan Jordan of the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Brisbane, Australia, told Reuters:

“Cancer of the uterus is becoming more common and we need to try to prevent it. The more women know about the things they can do to reduce their risks of future cancer diagnosis, the better.” [1]

Jordan and her colleagues teamed up to investigate possible correlations between breastfeeding and endometrial cancer. They analyzed data from 17 studies participating in the Epidemiology of Endometrial Cancer Consortium. Ten of the studies were from the U.S., and the others were from Canada, Europe, China, and Australia. Data were available from over 26,000 mothers, including 9,000 with endometrial cancer. The team searched for whether the women breastfed and, if so, for how long. [1]

The researchers found that breastfeeding for any period of time lowered the risk of endometrial cancer and that mothers who breastfed for the recommended six months decreased their risk even further. Breastfeeding beyond nine months appeared to offer no additional benefit. However, women who breastfed their children for any length of time lowered their risk of endometrial cancer by 11% compared to those who had children but didn’t nurse them at all.

Said Jordan:

“Although this piece of evidence by itself may not convince women to breast-feed, it contributes to the overall picture of health gains that can come from breast-feeding.” [1]

Jordan explained:

“Breast-feeding has consistently been found to be associated with reduced risk of breast cancer. This provides evidence of another long-term health benefit for women who breast-feed for more than six months.” [2]

The protective effects of breastfeeding remained, even after the researchers accounted for age, race, education, oral contraceptive use, menopausal status, years since last pregnancy, and body mass index.

Source: The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

In women born after 1950, breastfeeding reduced the risk of endometrial cancer by 28%, but the risk reduction was negligible among women born before then, possibly reflecting differences in breastfeeding practices. For example, in the U.S. in the 1950s and 1960s, breastfeeding rates were considerably lower than in recent decades. [2]

The study does not prove cause and effect, the researchers wrote. But it would make sense that breastfeeding would lower the risk of endometrial cancer, as this type of the disease is fueled by estrogen. Breastfeeding suppresses the hormone.

Jordan said:

“The message is not only relevant for women making decisions about breast-feeding but also for society to understand the benefits so we can support women to breast-feed for reasonably long periods of time.

However, it’s not always possible for women to breast-feed, so it should also be noted that just because a woman chooses not to or can’t breast-feed, it doesn’t mean she’ll go on to develop cancer.” [2]

Jordan and her colleagues have also teamed up with international collaborators to study the effects of breastfeeding on ovarian cancer risk. In addition, the scientists are investigating other factors that may influence endometrial cancer risks, including specific medications. [2]

Breastfeeding has also been linked to numerous other health benefits, including prevention of heart disease.

Sources:

[1] Reuters/Fox News

[2] The Washington Post

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists


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Study: Nearly 40% of Canned Goods Still Contain Gender-Bending BPA Chemical

Bisphenol A, or BPA, is an endocrine disrupting chemical that is ubiquitous within our society. It was removed from baby bottles, sippy cups, and most cans of baby formula a number of years ago. But a recent study found that a lot of food packaging still contains the gender-bending substance.

Recently, the Center for Environmental Health tested more than 250 cans purchased at supermarkets and dollar stores for BPA in California, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Virginia. Most of the cans were purchased at Kroger, Albertsons/Safeway, Dollar Tree and 99 Cents Only.

Nearly 40% of the containers were found to contain the chemical. And while that’s less than 2 years ago, when it was 67%, it’s not exactly a small amount. [1]

The study found that 36% of Albertson’s, and 33% of Kroger’s “private label” food cans tested positive for BPA.

Charles Margulis of the Center for Environmental Health said:

“It’s still much too high. We need to get it down to zero.” [2]

BPA is used in the lining of cans, and some research indicates that low levels of it can seep into food.

According to the FDA, the current levels of BPA in food are safe. However, California recently added the substance to its Proposition 65 list as a chemical known to cause reproductive toxicity.

Margulis said:

“BPA is known to cause birth defects, and it’s also linked to breast cancer, obesity, and many other serious health problems.”

Those facing the greatest health risks from BPA exposure may be low-income citizens who often rely on canned foods. The study revealed that more than half of the cans purchased at 99 Cents Only contained BPA. Past studies show that low-come communities have higher levels of BPA in their bodies than the rest of the population. [1]

Margulis commented:

“In many areas, dollar stores are the only places can go for fruits and vegetables.” [2]

Read: Are You Living in a Food Desert?

His advice is simple: buy fresh organic produce whenever possible.

BPA Facts

Source: Chemical & Engineering News

BPA is a synthetic hormone which mimics the female hormone estrogen, earning the chemical its reputation as a “gender-bender.” It has been associated with infertility, breast and reproductive system changes, and early puberty. [3]

Aside from hormonal and reproductive problems, BPA may also cause obesity, diabetes, behavioral changes in children, and resistance to chemotherapy treatments.

How to Reduce BPA Exposure

It’s virtually impossible to completely avoid BPA, but there are things you can do to reduce your family’s exposure:

  • Purchase baby formula in plastic, glass, or other non-metal containers. Choose powdered formula whenever possible, since the packaging contains less BPA, and the powder is diluted with fresh water. If you must buy your baby liquid formula, look for brands sold in plastic or glass containers, or one’s that explicitly say “BPA Free.”
  • Look for canned food labeled BPA-free, or buy food packed in glass jars or waxed cardboard cartons.
  • Repurpose old baby bottles, cups, dishes, and food containers marked with the letters “PC,” for polycarbonate, or recycling label #7. Not all #7 polycarbonates contain BPA, but some of them do.
  • Never microwave food in plastic containers.

As much as 40% of store receipts may be coated in BPA as well, according to the Environmental Working Group. The chemical can rub off on hands or food items, and may be absorbed through the skin.

Source: Forbes

You can also limit your exposure to BPA through store receipts:

  • Say no to paper receipts when possible.
  • Keep receipts in an envelope.
  • Never give a child a receipt to hold or play with.
  • Wash your hands before preparing and eating food after handling a receipt.
  • Don’t recycle receipts and other thermal paper. BPA residues contaminate recycled paper.

Sources:

[1] Center for Environmental Health

[2] CBS News

[3] Environmental Working Group

Chemical & Engineering News

Forbes


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Environmental Working Group Releases its 2017 Guide to Sunscreens

If you’re planning to spend summer days by the pool or beach-side, you’ll likely reach for a bottle of sunscreen to prevent you from becoming red and crispy. These products are not all created equal, however, and it can be difficult to know what to purchase when you’re staring at the multitude of options available at the supermarket. Thankfully, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has put out a list of the best and worst sunscreens every year since 2007 to help you decide.

This year, nearly ¾ of the products EWG examined offered inferior sun protection, or contained ingredients that can harm humans and/or the environment. One of those ingredients is oxybenzone, an endocrine-disrupting chemical which has also been linked to coral reef deaths.

The group says it has discovered a dramatic increase in the availability of mineral-only sunscreens, up from 17% of products in 2007 to 34% in 2017. Zinc oxide and titanium oxide products typically get positive reviews, as they are more stable in sunlight, offer a better balance between protection from both UVA and UVB rays, and rarely contain potentially harmful additives.

EWG says on its website that it remains concerned that a common sunscreen additive, a form of vitamin A called retinyl palmitate, can harm skin. It notes that government test data shows more skin tumors and lesions on animals treated with retinyl palmitate. Fortunately, the use of this potentially hazardous ingredient in sunscreen has decreased greatly – from nearly 40% of products in 2007, to just 14% of products reviewed in 2017.

Read: Synthetic Vitamin A Found in Sunscreens Linked to Skin Cancer

It should be noted that EWG considers sunscreen a last resort, behind the following protective measures:

  • Wearing clothing, which can reduce your risk of suffering a nasty sunburn by 27%;
  • Planning your day around the sun – the sun is lower in the sky and there is less of a burn risk early in the morning and in the late afternoon;
  • Finding or making shade, which can reduce the risk of multiple burns by 30%;
  • Sunglasses, which protect the eyes from UV rays;
  • Checking the UV index.

Of course if you know that you’ll be out in the sun for any extended period of time, I’d still recommend using sunscreen over turning into a lobster and suffering from UV damage.

Concerning Chemicals

Source: Yahoo Health
  • Oxybenzone is the EWG’s biggest concern health-wise, and for good reason. The endocrine disruptor is pervasive and has been detected in nearly every American. It has also been detected in breast milk. Oxybenzone is associated with relatively high rates of skin allergy.
  • Octinoxate (Octylmethoxycinnamate) has been detected in breast milk, is an endocrine disruptor, and has been shown to alter animals’ behavior and thyroids in studies. It is associated with moderate rates of skin allergy.
  • Homosalate has been found in mothers’ milk; disrupts estrogen, androgen, and progesterone; and leaves behind toxic breakdown products.
  • Octocrylene has shown up in breast milk, and is associated with relatively high rates of skin allergy.

A High SPF Doesn’t Always Mean More Protection

If you’re light-haired and fair-skinned, you should not assume that a higher SPF sunscreen offers significantly more protection than a lower one. EWG writes on its website:

“Theoretically, applying sunscreen with a sun protection factor, or SPF, of 100 would allow beachgoers to bare their skin 100 times longer before suffering a sunburn. Someone who would normally redden after 30 minutes in the midday sun could stay out for 50 hours.

But for high-SPF sunscreens, theory and reality are two different things. Many studies have found that people are misled by the claims on high-SPF sunscreen bottles. They are more likely to use high-SPF products improperly and as a result may expose themselves to more harmful ultraviolet radiation than people relying on products with lower SPF values.”

An SPF 100 product should – theoretically – provide twice as much protection as an SPF 50 sunscreen. But, in truth, the difference is negligible. A sunscreen with an SPF of 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays, while an SPF 100 blocks 99%. If you apply a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or a little more , you should be adequately protected from developing a sunburn, no matter how fair you are.

Source: The New York Times

High-SPF products may come with greater health risks, as well. These sunscreens require higher concentrations of sun-filtering chemicals than low-SPF sunscreens, and these chemicals have been linked to tissue damage and potential hormone disruption, not to mention skin allergies. The risks simply aren’t worth it – they don’t do a better job of protecting you.

Which Sunscreens You Should buy

This year, Environmental working Group gave 239 beach and sport sunscreens a green rating, the highest rating assigned to products by the group. There are also 239 green-rated sunscreen lotions for kids.

EWG also lists the worst of the worst sunscreens in its report, which includes recognizable names such as Banana Boat, Coppertone, CVS Health, Equate (Wal-Mart brand), and Neutrogena.

Source:

Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Sunscreens

Image Sources:

The New York Times

Yahoo Health


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