More than 75 brands use cans lined with BPA-laden epoxy for all their products

BPA in canned food, behind the brand curtain 2014 survey

big-can image
More than 75 brands use cans lined with BPA-laden epoxy for all their products. Take action today to demand that these companies stop using this dangerous chemical. Image by Chris.

EWG’s survey of 252 brands produced by 119 companies between January and August 2014 found that:

  • 78 brands, or 31 percent, used Bisphenol A BPA-lined cans for all products. About 46 percent of the brands in this group did not say whether they were working with can suppliers or packaging manufacturers to shift to BPA-free cans or to test substitutes.
  • 31 brands – 12 percent of the brands in our sample – used BPA-free cans for all canned products.
  • 34 brands, or 14 percent, used BPA-free cans for one or more of their canned products.
  • 43 percent of all brands gave ambiguous or incomplete answers to questions about their use of BPA and/or did not respond to EWG’s queries.
    Companies that said they had eliminated BPA or were in the process of doing so did not disclose the substitutes they were using, an omission that had the effect of slowing scientific study of the possible hazards of these substitute materials. Only 13 brands volunteered even a vague description of the alternative can coatings they use.
  • In the absence of a clear national standard, companies can define “BPA-free” as they wish. As a result, some products labeled BPA-free may have some amount of the chemical in can linings.

Take action today to demand that these companies stop using this dangerous chemical.

Sources and more information
  • BPA IN CANNED FOOD Behind the Brand Curtain, ewg, JUNE 3, 2015. Full survey PDF.
  • BPA still a favorite among canned good brands, environmentalhealthnews, June 3, 2015.

The prediction of breast-cancer risk and the risk of genetic overdiagnosis

Limiting genetic tests for breast cancer susceptibility

A leading oncogeneticist warns against the risk of “genetic over-diagnosis” on the basis of spurious genetic tests and proposes limiting testing to clinically validated genes.

Screening for genes whose risk association with breast cancer has yet to be proven is not justified and potentially harmful, argue an international team of leading geneticists and oncologists in a paper published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine: Gene-Panel Sequencing and the Prediction of Breast-Cancer Risk.


We have discussed some of the difficulties of assigning risk to rare variants and reviewed the genes for which the evidence of association with breast cancer is sufficiently robust to be incorporated into personalized risk prediction. Variants that are predicted to truncate BRCA1 and BRCA2 (together with a subset of missense variants) confer a high risk of breast cancer; PALB2 and perhaps PTEN may also fall in this category, but the evidence is insufficient to place them confidently in the category of high risk rather than moderate risk. For TP53, both missense and protein-truncating variants are associated with substantially increased risks of breast cancer. Genes that fall into the category of moderate risk (for which fully deleterious mutations confer a risk of breast cancer that is two to four times as high as that in the general population) include CHEK2, ATM, and NF1. There is clear evidence for an association with risk of cancer for STK11, CDH1, and NBN, but the risk estimates are too imprecise for categorization. Estimates of risk for PTEN, STK11, and CDH1 are derived entirely from studies of selected patients identified through specialized clinics and may be seriously overestimated. We found insufficient evidence to establish any other genes as conferring a predisposition for breast cancer and would caution against their use in the prediction of breast-cancer risk. As the costs of sequencing decline, it is inevitable that the use of gene-panel testing, and indeed whole-exome and whole-genome sequencing, will become widespread. Therefore, there is an urgent need for much larger, well-designed population- and family-based studies in diverse populations that will provide reliable estimates of risk for the purpose of counseling. The systematic collection of data from ongoing use of panel testing linked to the epidemiologic and clinical data may also make an important contribution. Other genes that convey susceptibility to breast cancer (and perhaps rarer variants in noncoding sequences) will probably be identified and may be added to genetic-testing panels. Panel testing can make a useful contribution to prediction of a woman’s risk of breast cancer, but end users need to be aware of the limitations of these panels.

  • Read Gene-Panel Sequencing and the Prediction of Breast-Cancer Risk, nejm, June 4, 2015.
  • Read Limiting genetic tests for breast cancer susceptibilityMcGill News, 1 JUN 2015.

Ma liberté de soigner, Nicole Delépine

Pour la médecine, contre la pensée unique

Ma-liberté-de-soigner image
Le plan Cancer présenté en mars 2003 par Jacques Chirac annonce en première intention sa volonté d’accorder à chaque patient un “parcours personnalisé”. Dans la réalité, seul ce parcours sera effectivement personnalisé, mais pas le traitement qui, lui, sera standardisé.

Sous couvert d’imposer à notre pays une “médecine fondée sur les preuves“, on assiste depuis quelques années au démantelement en règle de notre système de soins et de protection sociale. Maître mot de cette orientation idéologique devenue une véritable religion pour certains : la standardisation.

Désormais, pour être “scientifiquement correct”, les traitements doivent être uniformisés, les soignants robotisés et les patients normalisés.

Ces dérives, encouragées par les grandes firmes pharmaceutiques et appliquées par une bureaucratie tatillonne, ont élevé les essais thérapeutiques au rang d’horizon indépassable pour tous les traitements à venir. Et malheur aux médecins, malades et familles qui ne se convertiraient pas à ce nouveau dogme !

A la fois témoignage bouleversant sur son vécu auprès d’enfants malades du cancer et réquisitoire aurgumenté contre un système de plus en plus totalitaire qui rejette les fondamentaux de la médecine d’Hippocrate, l’ouvrage du docteur Nicole Delépine est surtout un vibrant plaidoyer pour la liberté thérapeutique.

Cancer trials show immunotherapy drugs are effective and promising

Immunotherapy heralds ‘new era’ for cancer treatment.

cancer immunotherapy image
A whole new era” for cancer treatment is upon us, according to experts. Two new studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine provide further evidence that immunotherapy is highly effective against the disease.

International trial using ipilimumab and nivolumab to treat patients with advanced melanoma stopped cancer advancing in 58% of cases.
Recently presented at the 2015 American Society for Clinical Oncology annual meeting:

  • one study revealed that a drug combination of ipilimumab and nivolumab (an immune therapy drug) reduced tumor size in almost 60% of individuals with advanced melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer – compared with ipilimumab alone,
  • while another study found nivolumab reduced the risk of lung cancer death by more than 40%.
Sources and more information
  • Immunotherapy heralds ‘new era’ for cancer treatment, MedicalNewsToday, 4 June 2015.
  • Trials show immune drugs effective in advanced melanomas, eurekalert, 1-JUN-2015.
  • Immunotherapy drug improves survival for common form of lung cancer, eurekalert, 31-MAY-2015.
  • Immunotherapy drugs show continued promise, cancerresearchuk, 1 June 2015.

Will the “Female Viagra” really help women?

Concerns remain for the flibanserin drug, twice rejected by the FDA

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The makers of the flibanserin pill intended to boost sexual desire in women will try again this week to persuade regulators that the drug warrants approval after two rejections. Image via Net Doktor.

Later today, a committee of advisors to the Food and Drug Administration will vote on whether or not the agency should approve flibanserin – the much-hyped yet controversial “female Viagra.” However, the drug has already been rejected twice previously by the organization, who cite safety concerns. In the wake of those decisions, battle lines have been drawn between:

  • those who feel the agency is discriminating against the sexual health of women
  • and those who feel the language of sexual equality has been hijacked in an attempt to force an ineffective and unsafe drug on the market.

MedicalNewsToday took a look at both sides of this dramatic debate

More information
  • Will ‘the female Viagra’ really help women?, MedicalNewsToday, 4 June 2015.
  • Pink Viagra may be coming soon (but for teetotalers, only!), healthnewsreview,
  • Concerns remain for “Viagra for women” twice rejected by FDA, denverpost, 06/03/2015.
  • Will Female Viagra Be An FDA Boner?, Science 2.0, May 28th 2015.
  • ‘Viagra for Women’ Gets Push for F.D.A. Approval, The New York Times, MAY 31, 2015.

Registry Information for Pregnant Women

Share your experience with medicines

Share your experience with medicines. Sign up for a pregnancy exposure registry. You can help other pregnant women and doctors find out more about the safety of medicines used during pregnancy.

Many women need to take medicine while they are pregnant. Some women take medicines for health problems, like diabetes or high blood pressure, that can start or get worse when a woman is pregnant. Some women use medicine before they find out they are pregnant.

A pregnancy exposure registry is a study that collects health information from women who take prescription medicines or vaccines when they are pregnant. Information is also collected on the newborn baby. This information is compared with women who have not taken medicine during pregnancy.

Enrolling in a pregnancy exposure registry can help improve safety information for medicines used during pregnancy and can be used to update drug labeling. Learn more about how you can help.

Image via U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Effect of diethylstilbestrol on reproductive function

DES-exposed patients must be observed closely for ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion, and PTD

berceau_newborn image
In 1999, Jeffrey M. Goldberg, M.D., and Tommaso Falcone, M.D reviewed 60 references about DES in order to publish their summary on fertility and sterility issues related to DES exposure.

1999 Study Abstract

To review the effects of in utero exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES) on müllerian development and subsequent reproductive function.

The literature on DES and reproductive function was reviewed and summary data are presented. The studies were identified through the computerized MEDLINE database and a manual search of relevant bibliographies.

In utero exposure to DES resulted in reduced fertility and increased rates of ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion, and preterm delivery.

An understanding of the reproductive performance of women who were exposed to DES in utero is useful for counseling these patients regarding their risks and treatment options.

1999 Study Summary

In the wake of the DES and thalidomide tragedies, the effect of new pharmaceuticals on pregnancy is now considered and medications are used more judiciously during pregnancy. The anatomic changes associated with exposure to DES in utero are well known even though the pathogenic mechanisms are not. Although new cases of vaginal clear cell adenocarcinoma resulting from exposure to DES in utero are not expected at this point, an unknown number of exposed women are still facing several reproductive hazards in their quest for a viable live birth. These patients must be observed closely for ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion, and PTD. In spite of their poor obstetric histories, they can be reassured that approximately 80% ultimately will be successful. Surgical correction of the structural abnormalities in an attempt to improve their reproductive performance is not advised. The use of prophylactic cervical cerclage may be beneficial, but a consensus is lacking.

  • Effect of diethylstilbestrol on reproductive function, Goldberg JM1, Falcone T., Fertil Steril. 1999 Jul;72(1):1-7., NCBI PMID: 10428139.
  • Full text, FERTILITY AND STERILITY, VOL. 72, NO. 1, JULY 1999, S0015-0282(99)00153-3.
More DES DiEthylStilbestrol Resources

Power Morcellation: a hazardous Practice

Cardiothoracic surgeon Hooman Noorchashm waged a national campaign to put an end to the practice of power morcellation

On Oct. 17, 2013, a surgical instrument called a power morcellator tore into the uterus of Amy Reed, an anesthesiologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, pulverizing what were believed to be benign fibroids

More information
  • Reed’s “minimally invasivehysterectomy, a routine procedure, was performed at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School.  Alas, Reed’s uterus contained an occult sarcoma, which the morcellator proceeded to spread through her abdominal pelvic cavity.  Over ensuing months, as Reed battled to stay alive, her husband, Hooman Noorchashm, a cardiothoracic surgeon and, at the time, a lecturer at Harvard, waged a national campaign to put an end to the practice of power morcellation.
  • Video published on 3 July 2014 by TheCancerLetter.
    Read the full story on The Cancer Letter, Jul 3, 2014.
Dr. Noorchashm campaign against hysterectomy using electric power morcellation
  • Public testimony gets heated at FDA panel meeting on morcellation, OBGYNNews,video, JULY 11, 2014.
  • Health Alert: Many Women Have Died Because Deadly Cancers of the Uterus Are Being Spread by Gynecologists. Stop Morcellation of the Uterus in Minimally Invasive Surgery,
    Change, SIGN the Petition by Hooman Noorchashm.


Why Too Much Medicine Is Making Us Sicker and Poorer

overtreated book cover image
Overtreated ultimately conveys a message of hope by reframing the debate over health care reform.

Though touted as perhaps the best in the world, the American medical system is filled with hypocrisies. Our health care is staggeringly expensive, yet one in six Americans has no health insurance. We have some of the most skilled physicians in the world, yet one hundred thousand patients die each year from medical errors. In this gripping, eye-opening book, award-winning journalist Shannon Brownlee takes readers inside the hospital to dismantle some of our most venerated myths about American medicine. Using vivid examples of real patients and physicians, Overtreated debunks the idea that most of medicine is based in sound science, and shows how our health care system delivers huge amounts of unnecessary care that is not only expensive and wasteful but can actually imperil the health of patients.
The interests of politicians and the medical-industrial complex continually trump those of patients, seducing the wealthy with unnecessary procedures and leaving the poor with haphazard access to treatment. Backward economic incentives allow patients with chronic conditions to receive ineffective care, and roll after roll of red tape undermines even the best-intentioned doctors. Tens of thousands of patients die each year from overtreatment. American medicine is in desperate need of fixing.

Nevertheless, Overtreated ultimately conveys a message of hope by reframing the debate over health care reform. Americans worry about rationing–that any effort to rein in the high cost of health care will result in limited access to life-saving treatments. Covering the uninsured seems like an insurmountable problem because it will drive up costs even more. Overtreated offers a way to control costs and cover the uninsured, while simultaneously improving the quality of American medicine. Shannon Brownlee’s humane, intelligent, and penetrating analysis empowers readers to avoid the perils of overtreatment, as well as pointing the way to better health care for everyone.

Read analysis by medconsumers, customer reviews on amazon and goodreads.

On Flickr®

Do our bodies safely break down BPA? Fat chance

In Vitro Effects of Bisphenol A β-D-Glucuronide (BPA-G) on Adipogenesis in Human and Murine Preadipocytes

This post content is written by Brian Bienkowski, published by Environmental Health News – covering the most important stories on environmental and health issues every day.

obesity image
Industry has long contended bisphenol-A breaks down harmlessly in our bodies. New research suggests that we transform it into a compound linked to obesity. Image by Tony Alter.

A new study suggests the long-held industry assumption that bisphenol-A breaks down safely in the human body is incorrect. Instead, researchers say, the body transforms the ubiquitous chemical additive into a compound that might spur obesity.

The study is the first to find that people’s bodies metabolize Bisphenol A (BPA) — a chemical found in most people and used in polycarbonate plastic, food cans and paper receipts — into something that impacts our cells and may make us fat.

The research, from Health Canada, challenges an untested assumption that our liver metabolizes BPA into a form that doesn’t impact our health.

This shows we can’t just say things like ‘because it’s a metabolite, it means it’s not active’,” said Laura Vandenberg, an assistant professor of environmental health at the University of Massachusetts Amherst who was not involved in the study. “You have to do a study.”

People are exposed to BPA throughout the day, mostly through diet, as it can leach from canned goods and plastic storage containers into food, but also through dust and water.

Within about 6 hours of exposure, our liver metabolizes about half the concentration. Most of that — about 80 to 90 percent — is converted into a metabolite called BPA-Glucuronide, which is eventually excreted.

The Health Canada researchers treated both mouse and human cells with BPA-Glucuronide. The treated cells had a “significant increase in lipid accumulation,” according to the study results. BPA-Glucuronide is “not an inactive metabolite as previously believed but is in fact biologically active,” the Health Canada authors wrote in the study published this week in Environmental Health Perspectives.

Not all cells will accumulate lipids, said Thomas Zoeller, a University of Massachusetts Amherst professor who was not involved in the study. Testing whether or not cells accumulate lipids is “a very simple way of demonstrating that cells are becoming fat cells,” he said.

Hopefully this [study] stops us from making assumptions about endocrine disrupting chemicals in general,” he said.

The liver is our body’s filter, but it doesn’t always neutralize harmful compounds. “Metabolism’s purpose isn’t necessarily a cleaning process. The liver just takes nasty things and turns them into a form we can get out of our body,” Vandenberg said.

BPA already has been linked to obesity in both human and animal studies. The associations are especially prevalent for children exposed while they’re developing.

Researchers believe BPA does so by mimicking estrogen hormones, but its metabolite doesn’t appear to do so. In figuring out why metabolized BPA appears to spur fat cells, Zoeller said, it’s possible that BPA-Glucuronide is “hitting certain receptors in cells”.

Health Canada researchers were only looking at this one possible health outcome. “There could be other [health] impacts,” Zoeller said.

In recent studies BPA-Glucuronide has been found in human blood and urine at higher concentration than just plain BPA.

Industry representatives, however, argue the doses used were much higher than what would be found in people.

Steve Hentges, a spokesperson for the American Chemistry Council, which represents chemical manufacturers, said the concentrations used in which the researchers saw increased fat cells were thousands of times higher than the concentrations of BPA-Glucuronide that could be present in human blood from consumer exposure to BPA.

There were no statistically significant observations at lower BPA-G concentrations, all of which are higher than human blood concentrations,” he said in the emailed response.

Zoeller agreed the dose was high but said “the concentration is much less important than the fact that here is a group testing an assumption that’s uniformly been made.” Vandenberg said the range is not that far off from what has been found in some people’s blood.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reviewing the Health Canada study but couldn’t comment before Environmental Health News’ deadline, said spokesperson Marianna Naum in an email.

The agency continues to study BPA and states on its website that federal research models “showed that BPA is rapidly metabolized and eliminated through feces and urine.

Health Canada, which was not able to provide interviews for this article, has maintained a similar stance to the U.S. FDA, stating on its website that it “has concluded that the current dietary exposure to BPA through food packaging uses is not expected to pose a health risk to the general population, including newborns and infants.”

However, the fact that Health Canada even conducted such a study is a big deal, Vandenberg said.

Health Canada is a regulatory body and this is pretty forward thinking science,” she said. “Hopefully this is a bell that can ring for scientists working for other regulatory agencies.”

For questions or feedback about this piece, contact Brian Bienkowski.