In new research this week, a comprehensive review of 25 years of literature finds endocrine disrupting chemicals can impair fetal development and wreak havoc in a pregnant person. A study adds evidence that cholesterol-lowering drugs called fenofibrate can slow the progression of a form of diabetic eye disease. Finally, researchers in Sweden looked at the link between being overweight as a child and the risk of developing obese cancer as an adult.
Endocrine disruptors affect both the mother and the baby-to-be
Experts have known that for a long time endocrine disruptors are harmful chemical compounds that alter hormones, disrupt the body’s endocrine system, and can lead to a variety of health problems.
Now, a comprehensive review of 25 years of literature on endocrine disruptors shows that exposure to these environmental chemicals during pregnancy can adversely affect the health and development of a fetus, as well as a pregnant person.
“Women need to be more aware of endocrine disruptors, especially during pregnancy,” said Isabelle Plante, PhD, lead author of the study and researcher in environmental toxicology at the National Institute of Scientific Research in Quebec. She is also co-director of the Intersectoral Center for the Analysis of Endocrine Disruptors. “During pregnancy, not only the woman is affected; it is her baby too.”
Pregnancy is a complicated process during which a multitude of developments and programming takes place. When disrupted, changes can be irreversible, said Dr. planet.
In the uterus, the placenta is sensitive to environmental pollutants, the review showed. According to the report, when endocrine disruptors alter the way the placenta functions, it can lead to short-, medium- and long-term health problems such as diabetes, obesity, cancer and other chronic diseases.
The Canadian researchers looked at 12 of the most common endocrine disruptors, including bisphenol A, found in food-grade plastics, and phthalates, used to soften plastics and also found in many cosmetics. The researchers focused on chemicals that have been shown to affect the reproductive system, metabolism and mammary gland development during pregnancy.
The review was published in an April special of the magazine environmental research.
dr Plante said endocrine disruptors found in numerous consumer products such as makeup, food packaging, cleaning products and children’s toys are difficult to avoid.
Cholesterol-lowering fenofibrate drugs slow down diabetic eye disease
Researchers are studying what cholesterol-lowering drugs are called fenofibrate affect the course of diabetic retinopathy, an eye complication of diabetes, the drugs were found to be able to slow the progression of this disease.
The study, published in JAMA Ophthalmologyfound that fenofibrate can slow the development of proliferative diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetes causes vision loss through two main mechanisms, said Dr. Brian L. VanderBeek of the Scheie Eye Institute in Philadelphia. Diabetic macular edema (DME) occurs when the middle part of the retina, the macula, becomes swollen. Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) results from the growth of new blood vessels.
The study found that fenofibrate was associated with a protective effect for PDR but not for DME.
Related: Statins may prevent diabetic neuropathy in people with diabetes
Although more research is needed, if fenofibrate is beneficial for the treatment of diabetic eye disease, it would be an exciting new application of the drugs commonly prescribed to lower cholesterol. Currently, fenofibrates are not widely used to treat diabetic eye disease.
“Fenofibrate is known to lower blood levels of triglycerides [fats in the blood] and increase HDL [good cholesterol] levels. Some of its effects may be due to these primary effects, but there is also evidence that fenofibrate affects other signaling pathways that could affect the progression of diabetic retinopathy,” said Dr. VanderBeek.
There is currently a large ongoing clinical trial focused on the use of fenofibrates in patients with diabetic retinopathy. “The hope is that the results of this clinical study will convince more physicians of the beneficial effects of fenofibrates,” said Dr. VanderBeek.
Childhood obesity is a risk factor for obesity-related cancer in adults
The link between a high body mass index in adulthood and the risk of obesity-related cancer is well known, but now researchers have made a significant discovery: being overweight in childhood also carries an increased risk in adulthood Getting cancer associated with obesity.
The new study from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden was published in the journal cancer communication. It is the first to detail the risk of high BMI during childhood and adolescence.
Being overweight or obese is associated with it 13 types of cancer, including cancers of the blood, colon, gallbladder, liver, mouth, pancreas, skin and thyroid. The study found that men who had a high BMI as children had an increased risk of developing obesity-related cancer later in life, even if their weight was within the normal range in young adulthood. The data was based on 36,565 Swedish men born between 1945 and 1961.
Scientists analyzed the participants’ BMI at age 8 and again at age 20, and then followed them for 40 years, which was crucial for the study because most obesity-related cancers occur in upper-middle age. According to the CDC, more than 90% of new cases of obesity-related cancers occur in men and women who are 50 years of age or older.
The study found that boys who were overweight by age 8 had a significantly increased risk of obesity-related cancer and death in adulthood, particularly if they remained overweight at age 20 compared to their normal-weight peers. However, the study found that participants whose BMI was normal by age 20 also had an increased risk of cancer.
“Startlingly, even the group of boys who were overweight at age 8 but normal weight at age 20 was left with an excess relative risk of almost 40% compared to the normal weight group in both age groups,” said the study’s lead author, Jimmy Celind, a pediatrician and researcher at the Institute of Medicine at Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, in a publication accompanying the study.
childhood obesity is a serious health problem worldwide. In the United States, 19% of people between the ages of 2 and 19 are obese, which equates to nearly 1 in 5 children.
“Preventive measures against obesity-related cancer should begin early in childhood,” Celind said.
“Our results suggest that childhood weight control in males could prevent obesity-related cancers in adults,” he said.
- environmental research (April 1, 2022). “Killing two birds with one stone: Pregnancy is a sensitive window for endocrine effects on both the mother and the fetus.”
- Press release from the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (April 28, 2022). “Mother and child are vulnerable to exposure to endocrine disruptors.”
- NIH National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. “Endocrine Disruptors.” Page last checked January 24, 2022. Accessed May 6, 2022.
- Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. ewg.org/skindeep
- JAMA Ophthalmology (April 7, 2022). “Use of fenofibrate in the treatment of diabetic retinopathy – large population analyses.”
- NIH Medline Plus, “Fenofibrate.” Page last revised on 15.11.19. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
- cancer communication (04/08/2022). “Childhood Obesity and the Risk of Obesity-Related Cancer in Adults.”
- Press release from the University of Gothenburg (2 May 2022). “Residual increase in cancer risk after high childhood BMI.”
- US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Obesity and Cancer.” Page last checked February 18, 2021. Accessed May 6, 2022.
Melissa Erickson has over 30 years of journalistic experience, including as a reporter for a group of weekly newspapers in the Chicago suburbs and as a news desk clerk for GateHouse Media Inc. and Gannett Co.