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    Lung Diseases

    Study Shows Air Pollution Can Mess With Our DNA

    January 22, 2020

    Air pollution makes it difficult to breathe and it can also increase the blood pressure and heart rate of the person. Those issues are well known. Now new research suggests breathing diesel fumes can trigger another toxic and dangerous change. It can inappropriately turn some genes on while turning some genes off.

    A gene is a segment of our DNA that tells the cells of our body what to do and when to do it. Genes can be controlled by a chemical switch, also known as a methyl group. Methyl groups can cause a chemical reaction called methylation, thus affecting a component of DNA. This then tends to happen near a gene. If a methyl group is added, it can turn some gene off. The opposite tends to happen when you take a methyl group away or if you demethylate a gene. Either change can affect health.

    That can be a good thing. The body can naturally produce methyl groups and it can allow it to turn off genes when their action is no longer needed. The factors outside the body, like air pollutants, may step in inappropriately and it may add methyl groups to DNA. They might remove methyl groups. These environmental changes can hijack the genes and they can change when or what they instruct the cells to do.

    Harmful effects of air pollution

    The study of methylation’s role in gene action is named epigenetics. Epigenetics describes the changes that could happen outside of your DNA. These changes do not harm DNA. Instead, epigenetics may silence a gene or it can switch some gene on at the wrong time.

    Researchers also stated that breathing diesel fumes of two hours can already have an epigenetic effect. It was done by the researchers at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. They gathered 16 volunteers in an enclosed booth. The booth was about the same size as that of a small bathroom. They had the volunteer go inside the booth one by one and each of them remained there for at least two hours. They half breathed in clear air and the other half breathed air polluted with diesel fumes. The levels of that pollution were equal to the air along a highway in Beijing, China. The levels also might happen at rail yards, mines, busy ports, and industrial sites.

    To check on the effects of pollution, the researchers looked at the blood of the volunteers. They compared the gathered samples collected before the experiment to those taken 6 and 30 hours after someone had sat in the exposure booth. The methyl groups changed at about 2,800 different points on the DNA of those who breathed in diesel fumes. Those changes affected 400 genes. No similar changes were seen among those breathing the clean air.

    At some DNA locations, the exposure to diesel fumes added methyl groups. It reduced how many were present and that means that a switch that normally would turn off a gene was even more often flipped the other way. That could eventually lead to very high gene activity.

    How these changes that are related to diesel might affect health is still not clear, according to Huawei Jiang, the author of the study. But the tests show that air pollution can alter the DNA. The data also showed that diseases like asthma might stem from prolonged episodes of methylation.

    DNA changes in the body

    Jiang stated that even short-term exposure can cause these types of changes. She hopes that other researches can identify the cumulative effects for someone who breathes in diesel fumes regularly. The findings of her team were published in the journal Particle and Fibre Toxicology. 

    Source : https://www.sciencetimes.com/articles/24746/20200119/study-shows-air-pollution-can-mess-with-our-dna.htm

    Long-term Asbestos Exposure Can Trigger Lung Cancer in Children, Say Experts

    October 24, 2019

    Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring fibrous minerals that have the potential to cause cancer, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and other health groups.

    After the US health regulators found traces of asbestos in samples from Johnson & Johnson (J&J) baby powder and forced the company to recall 33,000 bottles of talcum powder, physicians in India have warned that long-term exposure of asbestos can trigger lung cancer in children.

    Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring fibrous minerals that have the potential to cause cancer, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and other health groups. According to media reports, customers should stop using powder from the affected JJ batch ‘immediately’.

    In its defense, the 133-year-old J&J said it had launched a review and prior tests have not found asbestos. The firm is facing thousands of lawsuits from people who claim its talc products caused cancer, which J&J has strongly denied, said media reports.

    “The only protection we have against asbestos is knowledge, vigilance and care for our children. If the lungs of children are pre-mature then they are more prone to get affected by asbestos,” Rajesh Chawla, Senior Consultant Respiratory Medicine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital in New Delhi, told IANS.

    “Children, who have accidentally inhaled asbestos, might see the effect after many years. Some can even develop lung cancer. In the advanced stage, one can also suffer from peritoneal mesothelioma,” Chawla explained.

    The USFDA has been testing dozens of products for asbestos, a known carcinogen amid rising public concern.

    In an earlier statement, J&J said that out of an abundance of caution, “it is initiating a voluntary recall in the United States of a single lot of its Johnson’s Baby Powder in response to a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) test indicating the presence of sub-trace levels of chrysotile asbestos contamination (no greater than 0.00002%) in samples from a single bottle purchased from an online retailer”.

    “Despite the low levels reported and in full cooperation and collaboration with the FDA, JJCI is initiating this voluntary recall of Lot #22318RB of Johnson’s Baby Powder, from which the tested sample was taken,” the company added.

    According to Anubhava Patel, Consultant Neonatology and Paediatric at Motherhood Hospital in Noida, asbestos can cause restrictive lung disease and severe respiratory insufficiency.

    “Long term inhalation can cause lung cancer (mesothelioma). It’s an occupational health hazard. These days asbestos is found in talcum powder and it is harmful to the kids,” Patel told IANS.

    According to a case study on 33 patients, published recently in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, exposure to asbestos-tainted talcum powder may cause malignant mesothelioma, a rare and deadly cancer that affects tissues lining internal organs.

    “Exposure to asbestos-contaminated talcum powders can cause mesothelioma. Clinicians should elicit a history of talcum powder usage in all patients presenting with mesothelioma,” the study noted.

    “Mesothelioma is considerably a new condition for India, with the first case being reported in 2015. Much of India’s asbestos-related health is primarily occupational and second-hand exposure,” said Manish Mannan, Pediatrics, Paras Hospital in Gurugram.

    He added that kids who work with the material in factories are often the victims of diseases derived from asbestos exposure.

    “Patients may not develop symptoms of mesothelioma as these symptoms are typically only discovered in the later stages of the disease. Treatment involved either some form of surgery, radiation or chemotherapy,” Mannan added.

    Source : https://www.news18.com/news/lifestyle/long-term-asbestos-exposure-can-trigger-lung-cancer-in-children-say-experts-2352687.html

    Asbestos in talcum powder linked to deadly cancer

    October 24, 2019

    As concerns about baby powder being contaminated with asbestos mount, a new study finds a link between such contamination and a rare and deadly cancer.

    A group of 33 people developed mesothelioma after long-term use of talcum powder and no exposure to other sources of asbestos, the report stated.

    “All of them had significant exposure to talcum powder,” said lead researcher Dr. Jacqueline Moline, a professor with Northwell Health’s Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research in Manhasset, N.Y. “It wasn’t like they sprinkled it on once a month. These were people who used it daily or many times a day for many, many years. They all used the powders, and then over time they developed the cancers,” Moline said.

    Just last week, Johnson & Johnson recalled a shipment of baby powder after U.S. authorities found it had been contaminated with asbestos — the first such recall in the company’s history, a spokesman said.

    Johnson & Johnson did not respond to a request for comment on Moline’s study, but said in its recall announcement that it has rigorous testing standards in place to ensure the safety of its baby powder.

    “Thousands of tests over the past 40 years repeatedly confirm that our consumer talc products do not contain asbestos,” the company’s statement said.

    Mesothelioma is a cancer of the lining that covers the outer surface of most internal organs, according to the American Cancer Society. It most often occurs in the lining around the lungs or the abdomen.

    Asbestos is the main risk factor for mesothelioma, the cancer society says. It’s fairly rare in the United States, with about 3,000 new cases diagnosed each year. But it has an average five-year relative survival rate of just 9 percent.

    People usually inhale asbestos fibers, which are so small that 200,000 fibers fit on Abraham Lincoln‘s nose on a penny, Moline said. The inhaled asbestos makes its way into the lining around the lungs and abdomen, where it causes DNA damage that triggers cancer.

    Although most mesotheliomas can be tracked back to asbestos exposure, there always have been a number of cases that couldn’t be explained that way, Moline said.

    Researchers have suspected that talcum powder could be one potential source of asbestos exposure, Moline said. Both minerals are mined from the earth, and sometimes asbestos and talc deposits overlap.

    “The talc, when it’s mined, can be contaminated with asbestos when both minerals are present,” Moline said.

    There’s no way to remove asbestos from talc, so the only way to protect consumers is to test what’s coming out of the mine, she said.

    To examine the possible link between mesothelioma and talcum powder, Moline and her colleagues gathered information on 33 different people with the deadly cancer who’d not been exposed to asbestos in any other way.

    They determined that talcum powder use was the only possible source of asbestos exposure among all 33 cases.

    Further, a closer examination of six specific cases revealed the presence of asbestos in their tissues after decades-long use of talcum powder.

    “They all had the same type of asbestos that is seen in talc in their tissues and in their mesothelioma,” Moline said. “The type of asbestos we found is not the type typically seen in commercial applications. It’s the type of asbestos you’d find in talc.”

    In one case, a 65-year-old woman was diagnosed with mesothelioma around her left lung after she complained of a dry cough and short-windedness. She started using talc around age 8 or 9, and regularly used it throughout her life. Researchers found asbestos fibers in the tissue of her lungs and lymph nodes.

    In another case, a 44-year-old man developed chest pain after playing hockey in 2012. Doctors found mesothelioma in the lining around his lungs. The man regularly used talcum powder after showering, as well as dousing his hockey gear with talc before donning it.

    It’s hard for consumers to judge on their own whether a specific brand of talcum powder is safe, Moline said.

    “The question is where does it come from and how rigorously has it been tested,” she said. “There are some mines that don’t have any asbestos, but it’s unclear whether those are being used by different manufacturers.

    “The most prudent thing for folks is either to use talc-free powders, which are on the market, or cornstarch-based products,” Moline concluded.

    The new study was published Oct. 17 in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

    More information

    The American Cancer Society has more about mesothelioma.

    Source : https://www.upi.com/Health_News/2019/10/21/Asbestos-in-talcum-powder-linked-to-deadly-cancer/1171571687753/

    Anxiety From Asbestos Exposure: French Compensation Model Extended to Other Toxic Substances

    September 27, 2019

    The French Supreme Court (Cour de Cassation) continues to demonstrate its openness to compensation for anxiety-related claims.

    In April 2019, the French Supreme Court opened the way for all workers exposed to asbestos to claim compensation for emotional distress, or “anxiety,” caused by the fear of contracting a serious disease, even if claimants cannot demonstrate any actual physical harm. As a result of this decision, any worker who can demonstrate that his or her past exposure to asbestos may lead in the future to a serious medical condition may claim compensation from his or her current or former employer.

    In its decision dated September 11, 2019, the French Supreme Court expanded the scope of this compensation to include all harmful or toxic substances. Therefore, an employee who demonstrates that he or she has: (i) been exposed in the workplace to a harmful or toxic substance generating a high risk of developing a serious disease; and (ii) developed anxiety resulting from such exposure, may seek compensation from his or her employer, provided that the employer did not implement certain minimum measures to ensure the employee’s health and safety and the claim is made within a five-year statute of limitations.

    While the September 11, 2019 decision applies to mine workers specifically, the broad wording of the French Supreme Court’s decision leaves no doubt that compensation for “anxiety” should be considered open to all employees exposed to any “harmful or toxic substances,” subject to the other conditions for such claims under French tort law.

    At this time, the definition of “harmful or toxic substances” that may give rise to indemnification for “anxiety” is unclear. Under the current European Regulation on Classification, Labelling, and Packaging of Substances, or CLP, there are at least 4,000 substances that may qualify.

    As was the case for asbestos, the case law of the French Supreme Court could lead to a large number of claims from employees or former employees claiming to suffer from “anxiety” who have worked on industrial sites using dangerous substances. In order for companies to limit their liability and defend against such claims, they will have to demonstrate that they have complied with their safety obligation and document the implementation and monitoring of adapted measures to protect their employees from exposure to such substances.

    Popular Cosmetics Recalled for Containing Asbestos

    September 27, 2019

    Several Beauty Plus products have been included in a safety alert from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). According to the agency, asbestos was found in four different products.

    The Recall

    The safety alert and recall notice was for four different products in the Beauty Plus brand.

    • City Color Collection Matte Blush in Fuchsia
    • City Color Cosmetics Timeless Beauty Palette
    • City Color Bronzer in Sunset
    • City Color Shimmer Bronzer in Caramel

    This is the second time a voluntary recall has occurred with Beauty Plus products. Both times have involved positive testing for asbestos. The first one happened in May 2019 with Claire’s JoJo Siwa Makeup Set along with the Global Effects Palette 2. Both products are made with talc and contained asbestos.

    The Dangers of Asbestos

    Asbestos fibers are dangerous to people if they can enter the body. These fibers are often released as dust and enter the lungs. Once they enter the lungs, they can’t leave, which can cause diseases. This includes asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.

    Lung cancer is responsible for the most deaths involving asbestos. Mesothelioma is another condition and a rare type of cancer that impacts the lining of the lungs along with the abdomen, chest and occasionally the heart. Nearly every case of this disease comes from exposure to asbestos. Asbestosis is a chronic disease of the respiratory system. The asbestos fibers cause scarring in the lungs, and it can lead to cardiac failure. It is usually fatal since there is no treatment found to be effective.

    The Dangers of Talc

    Products that contain talc are at higher risk for including asbestos. Talc may contain asbestos in its natural form. However, talc manufacturers are supposed to test the product before using it in cosmetics to ensure it’s asbestos-free and to take the appropriate steps to purify the talc before using it in developing products.

    The FDA doesn’t test cosmetics or approve them before they are available on the market. They are required to be appropriately labeled and to be safe for use by humans. However, these manufacturers aren’t required to share the information on safety with the agency.

    The job of the FDA is to monitor these products and to take action if there is an indication that a product is unsafe. The presence of asbestos in beauty products is deemed to be unsafe, especially since it can easily be inhaled.

    The FDA had tested samples earlier in the year after reports of products being marketed by Claire’s were contaminated. At this time, no adverse reactions are known, but anyone who experiences any reactions should report it to the MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program by the FDA. The agency advises consumers not to use the products. Beauty Plus has voluntarily recalled these items and it has been reported that no more are available for sale.

    Asbestos can accumulate in the lungs for many years before it is identified. Continued exposure increases the risk of developing one of the conditions associated with this carcinogen.

    Source : https://mednews365.com/popular-cosmetics-recalled-for-containing-asbestos/

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