More Infants Developing Cancer Due To Effects of Estrogens and Arsenic In Soy-Based Formulas

Prevent Disease
by Dr. Marianna Pochelli

New research concludes that exposure to a combination of both arsenic and estrogen, at levels U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers “safe” for humans, can cause cancer at elevated levels. The higher levels of added organic brown rice syrup in soy-based formula may explain why some researchers found higher levels of arsenic in the soy-based formula. Combined with the presence of both phytoestrogens, soy-based formulas are a disease promoting ticking time bomb for infants.

Texas Tech University researchers revealed that humans exposed to a combination of both toxicants were almost twice as likely to develop cancerous cells in their prostate. The study is published in the peer-reviewed journal The Prostate.

While it is established that both arsenic and estrogen can cause cancer, the research raises concerns about the dangers of chemicals in combination, and the efficacy of regulations that are established by testing one chemical at a time. Kamaleshwar Singh, PhD., is an assistant professor at the Institute of Environmental and Human Health at Texas Tech. “The majority of cancers are caused by environmental influences,” Dr. Singh remarked to Texas Tech Today, “Only about 5 to 10 percent of cancers are due to genetic predisposition. Science has looked at these chemicals, such as arsenic, and tested them in a lab to find the amounts that may cause cancer. But that’s just a single chemical in a single test. In the real world, we are getting exposed to many chemicals at once.”

The study contributes to the growing body of research on the interactive effects of pesticides on human health and the environment. For example, Tyrone Hayes, PhD., professor of integrative biology at UC Berkeley conducted research on the interactive effects of atrazine and other pesticides in a study on frogs. The study compared the impact of exposure to realistic combinations of small concentrations of corn pesticides on frog metamorphosis.

The study concluded that frog tadpoles exposed to mixtures of pesticides took longer to metamorphose to adults and were smaller at metamorphosis than those exposed to single pesticides, with consequences for frog survival. The study revealed that “estimating ecological risk and the impact of pesticides on amphibians using studies that examine only single pesticides at high concentrations may lead to gross underestimations of the role of pesticides in amphibian declines.” (Watch Dr. Hayes’ talk, Protecting Life: From Research to Regulation.)

Because arsenic has historically been used as a pesticide in orchard production, along with lead-based pesticides, Consumers Union, publisher of Consumers Reports, recently published an in-depth article looking at contamination in apple and grape juice. This is of particular concern because children drink a disproportionate amount of fruit juice, in terms of their body weight.

There have also been widespread press reports of a recent Dartmouth study that focused on contamination in rice syrup, a sweetener. That study included a look at infant formula and soy-based formulas are particularly of concern.

To make matters worse, Nestle and Mead Johnson Nutrition recently dismissed calls to remove genetically-modified organisms (GMO) from their infant formula products in the US and now evidence is coming forth on long-term risks related to infant formulations.

True cancer of the prostate, carcinoma, is seldom seen in infants and children, but other forms of malignant tumors may develop and more cases are appearing in developed nations where the link appears to center around soy infant formula.

While many claims have been made about the health benefits of these estrogen-like compounds, animal studies indicate that soy (both conventional and organic) contain powerful endocrine disrupters that alter growth patterns and cause sterility. Toxicologists estimate that an infant exclusively fed soy formula receives the estrogenic equivalent of at least five birth control pills per day. By contrast, almost no phytoestrogens have been detected in dairy-based infant formula or in human milk, even when the mother consumes soy products. A recent study found that babies fed soy-based formula had 13,000 to 22,0000 times more isoflavones in their blood than babies fed milk-based formula. Scientists have known for years that isoflavones in soy products can depress thyroid function, causing autoimmune thyroid disease and even cancer of the thyroid. But what are the effects of soy products on the hormonal development of the infant, both male and female?

Male infants undergo a “testosterone surge” during the first few months of life, when testosterone levels may be as high as those of an adult male. During this period, the infant is programed to express male characteristics after puberty, not only in the development of his sexual organs and other masculine physical traits, but also in setting patterns in the brain characteristic of male behavior. In monkeys, deficiency of male hormones impairs learning and the ability to perform visual discrimination tasks-such as would be required for reading-and retards the development of spatial perception, which is normally more acute in men than in women.

It goes without saying that future patterns of sexual orientation may also be influenced by the early hormonal environment. Pediatricians are noticing greater numbers of boys whose physical maturation is delayed, or does not occur at all, including lack of development of the sexual organs. Learning disabilities, especially in male children, have reached epidemic proportions. Soy infant feeding-which floods the bloodstream with female hormones that could inhibit the effects of male hormones-cannot be ignored as a possible cause for these tragic developments.

As for girls, an alarming number are entering puberty much earlier than normal, according to a recent study reported in the journal Pediatrics. Investigators found that one percent of all girls now show signs of puberty, such as breast development or pubic hair, before the age of three; by age eight, 14.7 percent of white girls and a whopping 48.3 percent of African-American girls had one or both of these characteristics. New data indicate that environmental estrogens such as PCBs and DDE (a breakdown product of DDT) may cause early sexual development in girls and a study in Puerto Rico implicated soy feeding as a cause of early menarche. The use of soy formula in the WIC program, which supplies free formula to welfare mothers, may explain the astronomical rates of early menarche in African American girls.

The consequences are tragic. Young girls with mature bodies must cope with feelings and urges that most children are not well-equipped to handle. And early maturation in girls is frequently a harbinger for problems with the reproductive system later in life including failure to menstruate, infertility and breast cancer.
Other problems that have been anecdotally associated with children of both sexes who were fed soy-based formula include extreme emotional behavior, asthma, immune system problems, pituitary insufficiency, thyroid disorders and irritable bowel syndrome.

The new study by Texas Tech researchers on arsenic and estrogen confirms that co-exposures have a greater impact on human health, particularly for the development of prostate cancer. Researchers treated human prostate cells with arsenic, estrogen and a combination of the two once a week for six months to determine changes in prostate cells. The results have major implications because estrogen mimics are ubiquitous, such as bisphenol A (BPA) used as a liner in food cans.

Similarly, while most arsenate pesticides were banned for use in agriculture in the U.S. in the 1980s, monosodium methanearsonate (MSMA) may still be used legally on cotton crops. Copper sulfate fertilizers have been found to be contaminated with arsenic. Other sources of exposure to arsenic include rice, an arsenic accumulator, and non-organically produced chicken. Poultry has become one of the most contaminated sources of meat available to humans, particularly due to approved arsenic-based additives which 80% of all chickens consume in their daily diet.

With exposure to both arsenic and estrogen together showing synergistic impacts on human health, the research also highlights the deficiencies of EPA’s risk assessment process which fail to look at chemical mixtures, synergistic effects, as well as certain health endpoints such as endocrine disruption. These deficiencies contribute to its severe limitations in defining real world poisoning.

Pest Infestation-Reducing Bats Dying from Pesticide Exposure


We may need to teach ourselves about the ‘bats and the bees’ if we want to keep feeding ourselves. Research is now confirming what has been observed by many farmers: Bats are necessary for keeping many types of crop-eating insect populations from swarming, and their populations are becoming dramatically reduced due to the widespread use of pesticides on our crops.

Researchers from the University of Tennessee tracked populations, eating habits and migration patterns of Brazilian bats (Tadarida brasiliensis), and compared them to the patterns of corn earworm moths (Helicoverpa zea) through multiple seasons.

They determined that the bats tracked and migrated with the moth infestations, and fed off of the moths where they gathered – among corn crops. The bats were found to migrate to moth infestations, dramatically reducing their populations. The evidence provided confirmation that bats are lethal predators of these and other pests that threaten our crops.

The researchers confirmed with their conclusion the importance of bats to preventing pest infestations on cropland and urban areas: “Our results support growing evidence for the role of generalist predators, and bats specifically, as agents for biological control and speak to the value of conserving indigenous generalist predators.”

At least 70% of bats are insect-eaters. The type of insect eaten depends greatly upon the species. There are over 1,200 species of bats. They will typically eat the insects known to infest that particular geographical region, but many also migrate with the insects as determined in the Tennessee research. Some bat colonies have been observed eating tens of thousands of pounds of insects each night.

Bats are dying by the millions

The problem, however, is that bat populations are being reduced in many areas, and researchers are suspecting the involvement of pesticides. This is concerning numerous bat and environmental experts, who have connected insect infestations to bat population reductions.

According to the Bat Conservation International, a group committed to the conservation of bats, more than 5.7 million (and possibly up to 6.7 million) bats have died from a disease called the White-nose Syndrome. The disease appears to be connected to a fungus, but is also related to immunosuppression among the bats.

The link to pesticides

The syndrome is strikingly similar to the bee’s colony collapse disorder, which many have attributed to a virus, but more recent research is connecting the disorder to pesticides. The research on CCD among bees has increasingly indicated that pesticides weaken the immune system, allowing the infection to take hold. Now this connection is also being made among bats.

Researchers from the State University of New York and the New York State Department of Health with the Department of Environmental Health Sciences released a study that illustrated that bats were accumulating toxic chemicals from pesticides and these were connected with their subsequent immunosuppression as well as hormone disruption.

They found that little brown bats found diseased with the White-nose syndrome also had significantly high levels of several pesticide- and herbicide-related chemicals in their fat tissues. These included polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs), organochlorine pesticides (OCPs which include DDT, chlordanes, HCB, and HCH). They found the highest levels of PCBs and PBDE concentrations in the bat fatty tissues were related to bats from regions with cropland spraying of pesticides.

The connection between declining bat populations and pesticides is also beginning to unfold among other research. Researchers from Germany’s University of Koblenz-Landau tested bats and bat activity among apple orchards before and after the orchards had been sprayed with pesticides. They found that bats were increasingly retaining pesticide residues and this was decreasing their activities and populations among the orchards.

Their research concluded a connection between pesticides and bat population loss: “The results emphasize the importance of adequately evaluating the risks of pesticides to bats, which, compared to other mammals, are potentially more sensitive due to their ecological traits.”

Bat populations are slow to rebound

Bats typically will have only one offspring, meaning that re-population of bats is a long and difficult process.

Bat experts have calculated that the loss of 5.7 million bats converts to nearly 4 billion pounds of additional insects. According to Bat Conservation International’s Executive Director Nina Fascione, losses in bat populations indicate a critical issue to come, as “the environmental and economic costs will be enormous.”

The loss of our bat populations will not only produce greater incidence of pest infestations. Many species of bats are important pollinators for many types of fruits. These species of bats prefer eating pollen to eating the insects that attack plants. The bats go from flower to flower eating pollen. Some of that pollen gets stuck in their fir, getting carried to other flowers. This effective pollination method is very similar to bees who transfer the sticky pollen from plant to plant as they harvest different flowers.

Most bat experts agree that bats are still somewhat mysterious due to their nocturnal activities. We are slowing realizing – and possibly too late – is that our widespread use of chemical pesticides is backfiring. Not only are we becoming poisoned by them: Those beneficial species that work alongside our food crops to assure their pollination and pest control are also becoming poisoned, and this may well threaten the future of our food supply.


Science Blog

An editorial published today in the prestigious journal Environmental Health Perspectives calls for increased research to identify possible environmental causes of autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders in America’s children and presents a list of ten target chemicals including which are considered highly likely to contribute to these conditions.

Philip Landrigan, MD, MSc, a world-renowned leader in children’s environmental health and Director of the Children’s Environmental Health Center (CEHC) at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, co-authored the editorial, entitled “A Research Strategy to Discover the Environmental Causes of Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities,” along with Luca Lambertini, PhD, MPH, MSc, Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine at Mount Sinai and Linda Birnbaum, Director of the National Institute OF Environmental Health Sciences.

The editorial was published alongside four other papers — each suggesting a link between toxic chemicals and autism. Both the editorial and the papers originated at a conference hosted by CEHC in December 2010.

The National Academy of Sciences reports that 3 percent of all neurobehavioral disorders in children, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), are caused by toxic exposures in the environment and that another 25 percent are caused by interactions between environmental factors and genetics. But the precise environmental causes are not yet known. While genetic research has demonstrated that ASD and certain other neurodevelopmental disorders have a strong hereditary component, many believe that environmental causes may also play a role – and Mount Sinai is leading an effort to understand the role of these toxins in a condition that now affects between 400,000 and 600,000 of the 4 million children born in the United States each year.

“A large number of the chemicals in widest use have not undergone even minimal assessment of potential toxicity and this is of great concern,” says Dr. Landrigan. “Knowledge of environmental causes of neurodevelopmental disorders is critically important because they are potentially preventable.”

CEHC developed the list of ten chemicals found in consumer products that are suspected to contribute to autism and learning disabilities to guide a research strategy to discover potentially preventable environmental causes. The top ten chemicals are:

1. Lead

2. Methylmercury
3. PCBs
4. Organophosphate pesticides
5. Organochlorine pesticides
6. Endocrine disruptors
7. Automotive exhaust
8. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
9. Brominated flame retardants
10. Perfluorinated compounds

In addition to the editorial, the other four papers also call for increased research to identify the possible environmental causes of autism in America’s children. The first paper, written by a team at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, found preliminary evidence linking smoking during pregnancy to Asperger’s disorder and other forms of high-functioning autism. Two papers, written by researchers at the University of California – Davis, show that PCBs disrupt early brain development. The final paper, also by a team at UC – Davis, suggests further exploring the link between pesticide exposure and autism.

Do You Know What’s In Your Salmon?

Dr. Chris Olgilvie, Feb. 8, 2011

Regardless of the price, if the average consumer saw two salmon, one that was salmon pink, and one that was jailhouse gray, the pink one will win out most of the time. Not only are the farm raised salmon gray, but all of those omega 3′s we thought we were getting, just don’t occur in similar quantities as they do in wild salmon.

The industry’s solution to this problem was to add a color additive to the salmon to give them a pinker look. As with most food additives, the two that are principally used in salmon are derived from petroleum. Canthaxanthin and astaxanthin are the petrochemicals used to color our fish so it looks pretty and we buy it.

Full story

Polar Bears Full of More Toxins Than Any Other Creature

Treehugger, Dec. 30, 2010

As their native habitat melts, polar bears have been forced into close contact with grizzly bears and humans—both of which have limited the iconic carnivore’s ability to obtain food. This, however, is not the only problem the bears face.

New research has shown that, even in their relatively remote arctic homes, exposure to toxins and chemicals have compounded to make polar bears the most contaminated creatures on the planet.

The problem begins in Europe, Asia, and North America, where industrial and agricultural pollutants are released into the air and water. Ocean and atmospheric currents carry these pollutants north and they eventually settle in the Arctic.

Researchers have found elevated levels of PCBs, brominated flame retardants, and mercury in polar bears.

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