June 12th, 2013
05:05 PM ET
Poor diet and lack of exercise might not be the only factors contributing to the obesity epidemic. A new study suggests the environment may also play a role.
“Eating too much and exercising too little are important factors,” said Dr. De-Kun Li, a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California. “But they cannot explain the steep increase in the obesity rate the last three decades. We haven’t really changed our eating habits and exercise that much.”
The environmental culprit, according to the study published Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE, may be bisphenol-a, a chemical commonly found in plastic and cans.
Li and colleagues studied 1,326 school-age children in Shanghai, China, and measured BPA levels in their urine. In girls ages 9 to 12, higher BPA urine levels were associated with a doubled risk of obesity. And as BPA urine levels increased, so did the girls’ obesity risk - measured using their weight in reference to weight distribution in the population. FULL POST
March 1st, 2013
07:51 AM ET
The list of products containing bisphenol A is pretty long: it coats the inside of the food cans; it can be found in certain plastic containers; it is sometimes found on cash register receipts.
And the list of maladies linked to the chemical is growing longer.
The latest study, by researchers at the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health, suggests a possible connection between BPA detected in urine samples of children and later problems with breathing.
July 17th, 2012
05:32 PM ET
The chemical bisphenol-A, or BPA has been officially banned from use in certain baby products, the US Food and Drug Administration announced today.
"FDA is amending the food additive regulations to no longer allow BPA in the plastic used to make baby bottles and sippy cups," said Curtis Allen, an FDA spokesman. "As a result, consumers can be confident that these products do not contain BPA. "
The move came as a result of a petition filed by the American Chemistry Council – an organization that represents “companies engaged in the business of chemistry” –- including plastic companies - saying the government should ban its use in these specific products.
July 16th, 2012
12:01 AM ET
Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in the U.S. for kids. In fact, more than half of elementary school students will have cavities by the time they're in second grade, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Since the 1970s, dentists have been using tooth-colored fillings that contain derivatives of the controversial chemical bisphenol A (BPA), in favor of the metal amalgam fillings.
Now a new analysis on dental fillings in children suggests these non-metal fillings may contribute to behavioral problems. The study authors caution that their results only point to an association; they say their analysis does not prove that BPA causes any behavior changes.
June 26th, 2012
10:01 AM ET
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other regulators are not using the best available science in their assessment of bisphenol-A's (BPA) safety, according to a statement released Tuesday by the Endocrine Society.
"Testing needs to include models of developmental exposure during critical life periods when organisms may be most vulnerable to even very low-dose exposure," says the world's largest group of researchers and clinicians who study how hormones function.
For a typical poison, a higher dose correlates directly with greater toxicity, but endocrine disrupting chemicals like BPA may be counter-intuitively more potent at lower levels, and during "windows of vulnerability" such as pregnancy, explains a 2009 scientific statement by the Endocrine Society.
That poses a problem for regulatory agencies' screening tests, which are based on traditional toxicology and do not detect the low-dose effects of chemicals on the endocrine system, said Frederick vom Saal, who co-authored the Endocrine Society's new statement.
June 20th, 2012
01:40 PM ET
Senate Joint Resolution 37, the Senate bill that would overturn the Environmental Protection Agency's controversial Mercury and Air Toxics Standards or MATS, was voted down Wednesday by a margin of 46 to 53.
Introduced by Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) in February, the resolution was a challenge to the country's first national protections rule designed to limit the amount of heavy metals like mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel and other toxic air pollutants released by power plants that burn coal and oil - toxins many suspect cause cancer and other health problems.
But Inhofe said the bill was specifically designed to kill the coal industry and the good paying jobs it provides. He led the charge to repeal the protections and vowed to keep fighting what he called the Obama administration's "damaging regulatory regime."
June 14th, 2012
07:15 AM ET
Lines are being drawn on Capitol Hill over an EPA rule to reduce air pollution from the nation's power plants.
Last year the Environmental Protection Agency approved the controversial Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (or MATS; also known as MACT), the country's first national protections rule designed to limit the amount of heavy metals like mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel and other toxic air pollutants released by power plants that burn coal and oil - toxins many suspect cause cancer and other health problems.
The new standards set work practices that include an annual performance test program for new and existing electric generating units. This would include an inspection, adjustments, maintenance and repairs.
"Utility MACT is specifically designed to kill coal as well as all the good paying jobs that come with it," Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) said on the Senate floor Tuesday. "The vote on my resolution will likely be the one and only opportunity to stop President Obama's war on coal - this is the one chance for my colleagues to show their constituents who they really stand with."
May 22nd, 2012
11:30 AM ET
Several years after dust from the World Trade Center twin towers found its way into thousands of homes and nearly every crevice in lower Manhattan, area residents still suffered health problems, according to a new study.
People living in homes damaged after 2001's Trade Center attacks were more likely to report respiratory illness or disease years later, when compared with people whose homes were not damaged, according to a recent analysis of World Trade Center Health Registry data.
May 3rd, 2012
12:01 AM ET
Planting season is here. Whether you're a seasoned gardener or a novice, a new study is raising a red flag about some of the products you might be using.
Researchers for the Ecology Center, a nonprofit environmental group tested nearly 200 common garden products and found two-thirds of them contained significant levels of one or more toxic chemicals they ranked of "high concern." The data was published on the website HealthyStuff.org.
April 30th, 2012
06:38 PM ET
Chlorpyrifos, a common pesticide, may be subtly influencing brain development in children, according to a new study. The brain abnormalities, found among a very small population of school-aged children, may have occurred while they developed in utero.
What is troubling, according to scientists, is that relatively low levels of chlorpyrifos appear to have caused the cascade of brain changes.
"It's out there and we do not know what the longer term impact is of lower levels," said Virginia Rauh, professor of Clinical Population and Family Health at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, and the study's lead author. "But it does seem to be associated with cognitive damage and structural changes in brain."
About this blog
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.