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Category Archives: environmental chemicals

Don’t be so quick to blame genetics or poor eating habits when people get fat during the holiday season, or anytime, for that matter. Emerging research shows that environmental chemicals may deserve a good deal of the blame when people get fat as well as obesity related disorders such as type 2 diabetes. A number of chemicals are suspect, including fire retardants, plasticizers and arsenic. What are the mechanisms? One intriguing pathway to excess fat may involve the interaction between chemicals and microbes that are important to food digestion. 

“Do Interactions Between Gut Ecology and Environmental Chemicals Contribute to Obesity and Diabetes?” That’s the title of a recent article on this subject by Suzanne Snedeker and Anthony Hay in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives (from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences), which can be found here.  
 
http://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/fetchArticle.action?articleURI=info%3Adoi%2F10.1289%2Fehp.1104204
 
A less technical discussion by Allison Tracy of the Environmental Defense Fund can be found in the following blog.

http://blogs.edf.org/nanotechnology/2011/12/15/a-new-power-couple-the-combined-impact-of-the-microbiome-and-chemical-exposures-on-disease-susceptibility-part-1-of-2/ – more-1646

Coming of age is coming earlier than ever.  New research published in the journal, Pediatrics, shows that girls are experiencing the onset of puberty as early as 7 and 8.

The study surveyed 1,239 girls from NYC, Cincinnati and SF.  It showed that at 7 years, 10.4 percent of white, 23.4 percent of black and 14.9 percent of Hispanic girls had enough breast development to be considered starting puberty. At age 8, the figures were 18.3 percent in whites, 42.9 percent in blacks and 30.9 percent in Hispanics.

The age of puberty in the developed world has been falling since the 19th century.  While first a credit to advances in nutrition, the precocious onset is now thought to be related to spikes in childhood obesity and possibly even the increases of estrogen in the environment.

Bodies are maturing faster than minds can keep pace.  This has potentially dangerous implications.  A young girl with the body of a young woman may leave many unprepared to deal with sexual advances and their own urges.

Photo by Sailing "Footprints: Real to Reel" (Ronn ashore)
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/09/health/research/09puberty.html?_r=1&src=sch&pagewanted=all