In new research this week, a comprehensive review of 25 years of literature reveals that endocrine disruptors can interfere with fetal development and wreak havoc on a pregnant person. A study adds evidence that cholesterol-lowering drugs called fenofibrates can slow the progression of a form of diabetic eye disease. Finally, Swedish researchers examined the link between overweight in childhood and the risk of developing obesity-related cancer in adulthood.
Endocrine disruptors affect both mother and future baby
Experts have long known that endocrine disruptors are harmful chemical compounds that can alter hormones, interfere with the body’s endocrine system, and lead to a wide variety of health problems.
Today, a thorough review of 25 years of literature on endocrine disruptors shows that exposure to these environmental chemicals during pregnancy can 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 for Scientific Research of Quebec. She is also co-director of the Intersectoral Center for the Analysis of Endocrine Disruptors. “During pregnancy, it’s not just the woman who is affected; it is also her baby.
Pregnancy is a complicated process during which a wide range of developments and programming occur. If disrupted, the changes may be irreversible, Dr. Plante said.
During the womb, the placenta is sensitive to environmental contaminants, the examination showed. If endocrine disruptors impair the placenta’s ability to function properly, it can lead to short, medium and long-term health problems, including diabetes, obesity, cancer and other chronic diseases, according to the report.
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. 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 a special April issue of the journal Environmental research.
Found in many consumer products, including makeup, food packaging, cleaning products and children’s toys, endocrine disruptors can be difficult to avoid, Dr. Plante said.
“Be aware of what is in the products you buy. Look to see if they are listing. Avoid them or find alternatives,” she says.
Cholesterol lowering drug fenofibrate slows diabetic eye disease
Researchers study how cholesterol-lowering drugs call fenofibrates affect the course of diabetic retinopathy, an ocular complication of diabetes, found that drugs can slow the progression of this disease.
The study, which was published in JAMA Ophthalmologyfound that fenofibrates can slow the development of proliferative diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetes causes vision loss through two primary mechanisms, said Brian L. VanderBeek, MD, of the Scheie Eye Institute in Philadelphia. Diabetic macular edema (DME) occurs when there is swelling in the central part of the retina called the macula. Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) occurs through the growth of new blood vessels.
The study found that fenofibrates were 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 fenofibrates are beneficial for the management of diabetic eye disease, it would be an exciting new application for drugs, which are commonly prescribed to lower cholesterol levels. Currently, fenofibrates are not widely used to manage diabetic eye disease.
“Fenofibrate is known to reduce blood triglyceride levels [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 impacts other pathways that may impact the progression of diabetic retinopathy,” said Dr. VanderBeek.
Currently, there is 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 trial will convince more doctors of the beneficial effects of fenofibrates,” said Dr. VanderBeek.
Childhood obesity is a risk factor for obesity-linked adult cancer
The link between a high body mass index in adulthood and the risk of developing obesity-related cancer is well known, but researchers have now made an important discovery: excess weight during childhood leads to also a high risk of obesity-related cancer in adulthood. .
The new study from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden has been published in the journal Cancer Communication. He is the first to detail the risk of high BMI during childhood and puberty.
Overweight or obesity is associated with 13 types of cancer, including cancer of the blood, colon, gall bladder, liver, mouth, pancreas, skin and thyroid. The study found that men who had a high childhood BMI had a high risk of obesity-related cancer later in life, even though their weight was within the normal range in early adulthood. . The data was based on 36,565 Swedish men born between 1945 and 1961.
The scientists analyzed the participants’ BMI at age 8 and again at age 20, then followed them for 40 years, which was crucial for the study because most obesity-related cancers occur in old age. upper middle. According to the CDC, more than 90% of new cases of obesity-related cancers occur in men and women age 50 or older.
The study found that boys who were overweight at age 8 had a markedly increased risk of obesity-related cancer and death in adulthood, especially if they remained overweight at age 20 compared to their peers in normal weight. However, participants whose BMI was recorded as normal by age 20 also had an increased risk of cancer, the study found.
“Alarmingly, a relative excess risk of nearly 40% remained even for the group of boys who were overweight at age 8 but normal weight at age 20, compared to the group normal weight at both ages,” said the study’s lead author, Jimmy. Celind, a pediatrician and researcher at the Sahlgrenska Academy Institute of Medicine at the University of Gothenburg, in a statement accompanying the study.
Childhood obesity is a serious health problem worldwide. In the United States, 19% of people aged 2 to 19 are obese, or nearly one in five children.
“Preventive measures against obesity-related cancer should start early in childhood,” Celind said.
“Our results suggest that childhood weight control may prevent obesity-related adult cancer in men,” he said.
- Environmental research (April 1, 2022). “Killing two birds with one stone: pregnancy is a sensitive window for endocrine effects on mother and fetus.”
- Press release from the National Institute for Scientific Research (April 28, 2022). “Mother and child vulnerable to exposure to endocrine disruptors.”
- NIH National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. “Endocrine disruptors.” Page last revised 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 Management of Diabetic Retinopathy – Large Population Analyzes.”
- NIH Medline Plus, “Fenofibrate”. Last revision of the page on 15/11/19. Accessed May 5, 2022.
- Cancer Communication (08 April 2022). “Childhood overweight and obesity-related adult cancer risk in men.”
- University of Gothenburg press release (May 2, 2022). “Remaining increase in cancer risk after high BMI in children.”
- US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Obesity and Cancer.” Page last revised February 18, 2021. Accessed May 6, 2022.
Melissa Erickson has over 30 years of experience as a journalist, including reporting for a group of weekly newspapers in suburban Chicago and contributing to the news service of GateHouse Media Inc. and Gannett Co.