The Wild and Wacky World of Epigenetics

External factors influence the decision of a gene to be expressed or remain silent

Shirley M. Tilghman, Former President, Princeton University talks.
Discovery Public Lecture Series, HHMI’s Janelia Research Campus, May 2015

More info and videos
  • Princeton University President Emerita Shirley Tilghman explores the underlying molecular epigenetic mechanisms that are revealing a wacky new world of gene regulation. If Gregor Mendel, the 19th century father of modern genetics, were alive today, his head would be spinning. The simple rules of Mendelian inheritance, which he painstakingly worked out with garden peas, have had to be substantially expanded and revised in the last several decades to accommodate the fact that genes are not nearly as well behaved as he thought. A pristine gene, free of any debilitating mutations, may or may not be expressed, depending upon parental inheritance, environmental influences, and even pure chance. This phenomenon, in which external factors influence the decision of a gene to be expressed or remain silent, is called epigenetics.
  • Read Shirley Tilghman to Deliver Next Public Talk at Janelia, HHMI News, April 7, 2015. Video published on 2 Oct 2015 by HHMI Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
  • Find more research videos on our YT channel.

When Carcinogenic Cosmetics are sold to Breast Cancer Victims…

Read Alice’s full story and join her in TAKING ACTION

BreastCancerAction is telling the Personal Care Products Council and the American Cancer Society that “Poison Isn’t Pretty.” @BCAction demand these multi-million dollar industry giants stop pinkwashing and start protecting women’s health.

Look Good, Feel Better is a program run by the Personal Care Products Council and the American Cancer Society; they hold free workshops that give beauty tips and complimentary makeup kits to women in cancer treatment—support that some women understandably value while facing a cancer diagnosis.

The downside? Many of the products offered to women in Look Good, Feel Better make-up kits contain chemicals linked to increased cancer risk and some of the chemicals may actually interfere with breast cancer treatment.

Demand these multi-million dollar industry giants stop pinkwashing and start protecting women’s health.

Sources and more information

Late age at menopause and menopausal hormone therapy linked to BCC risk

Female Estrogen-Related Factors and Incidence of Basal Cell Carcinoma in a Nationwide US Cohort

imag of basal-cell-carcinoma
Late age at natural menopause and menopausal hormone therapy use are associated with increased risk of basal cell carcinoma, according to a study published online Nov. 2 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
3/365 – Aching bones via Tiffany.

2015 Study Abstract

Purpose
UV radiation exposure is the primary risk factor for basal cell carcinoma (BCC), the most common human malignancy. Although the photosensitizing properties of estrogens have been recognized for decades, few studies have examined the relationship between reproductive factors or exogenous estrogen use and BCC.

Methods
Using data from the US Radiologic Technologists Study, a large, nationwide, prospective cohort, we assessed the relationship between reproductive factors, exogenous estrogen use, and first primary BCC while accounting for sun exposure, personal sun sensitivity, and lifestyle factors for geographically dispersed women exposed to a wide range of ambient UV radiation.

Results
Elevated risk of BCC was associated with late age at natural menopause (hazard ratio [HR] for ≥ 55 years v 50 to 54 years, 1.50; 95% CI, 1.04 to 2.17) and any use of menopausal hormone therapy (MHT; HR, 1.16; 95% CI, 1.03 to 1.30; P for trend for duration = .001). BCC risk was most increased among women reporting natural menopause who used MHT for 10 or more years versus women who never used MHT (HR, 1.97; 95% CI, 1.35 to 2.87). Risk of BCC was not associated with age at menarche, parity, age at first birth, infertility, use of diethylstilbestrol by participant’s mother, age at hysterectomy, or use of oral contraceptives.

Conclusion
These analyses confirm a previous finding of increased risk of BCC associated with MHT. Novel findings of increased BCC risk associated with MHT in women experiencing natural menopause and for late age at natural menopause warrant further investigation. Users of MHT may constitute an additional high-risk group in need of more frequent skin cancer screening.

Sources and more information
  • Female Estrogen-Related Factors and Incidence of Basal Cell Carcinoma in a Nationwide US Cohort, American Society of Clinical Oncology, doi: 10.1200/JCO.2015.62.0625, November 2, 2015.
  • Age at menopause, hormone therapy linked to BCC risk, medicalxpress., November 3, 2015.

Table ronde sur les liens entre les infirmier(e)s et les labos

Débat IDE-labos : liens nécessaires, liaisons dangereuses?

Produits et dispositifs utilisés dans les soins, formations, colloques, recherche… Autant de manifestations de la présence, au quotidien, dans la pratique infirmière, des laboratoires pharmaceutiques.
À l’heure où éclatent régulièrement des scandales sanitaires, dans un contexte de recherche du risque zéro, comment penser les relations entre infirmières et industrie pharmaceutique ? Quels enjeux ? Quelle régulation ?

En savoir plus

Finding Toxic Chemicals linked to Cancer in my Given Cosmetics

Read Katy’s full story and join her in TAKING ACTION

BreastCancerAction is telling the Personal Care Products Council and the American Cancer Society that “Poison Isn’t Pretty.” @BCAction demand these multi-million dollar industry giants stop pinkwashing and start protecting women’s health.

Look Good, Feel Better is a program run by the Personal Care Products Council and the American Cancer Society; they hold free workshops that give beauty tips and complimentary makeup kits to women in cancer treatment—support that some women understandably value while facing a cancer diagnosis.

The downside? Many of the products offered to women in Look Good, Feel Better make-up kits contain chemicals linked to increased cancer risk and some of the chemicals may actually interfere with breast cancer treatment.

Demand these multi-million dollar industry giants stop pinkwashing and start protecting women’s health.

Sources and more information

The management of DES-exposed women: one physician’s approach

It is clear that DES has long-term effects that may develop over time

The finding of an incidence of 47% of cervical or vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia in 34 patients aged 10 to 26 years so treated to date indicates a high risk of potential candidacy for squamous carcinoma of the vagina or cervix in later years. Away we try to escape by Kei Kojishi.

1976 Study Abstract

The female offspring of diethylstilbestrol DES-treated mothers are examined cytologically and colposcopically annually, starting at the age of seven years no treatment is indicated until a colposcopic atypical transformation zone occurs. With its occurrence all the abnormal epithelium (squamous or columnar) is excised from the vagina and cervix under colposcopic guidance in the hospital or in the office under local anesthesia. The procedures are done in stages to minimize scarring and to eliminate the possibility of vaginal-cervical adhesions or vaginal shortening. The finding of an incidence of 47% of cervical or vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia in 34 patients aged 10 to 26 years so treated to date indicates a high risk of potential candidacy for squamous carcinoma of the vagina or cervix in later years.

Sources and more information
  • The management of DES-exposed women: one physician’s approach, The Journal of reproductive medicine, NCBI pubmed 957347; 16(6):285-8. 1976 Jun.
More DES DiEthylStilbestrol Resources

News drugs and marketing tactics of the pharmaceutical industry

How Big Pharma is Selling Sickness, Alan Cassels, 2012

Alan Cassels was the keynote speaker at the Victoria Seniors Meeting, Febr. 2012.

More information
  • A drug policy researcher for the University of Victoria, Alan Cassels is a known for having a knack for finding and describing the chasm between what the market says and what science does in modern healthcare. Over the past two decades Cassels has spent much of his research energy studying clinical research and the marketing tactics of the pharmaceutical industry, turning some of that research into journalism and books, including international best-sellers Selling Sickness: How the World’s Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies are Turning us All into Patients and The ABC’s of Disease Mongering: An Epidemic in 26 Letters.
  • Watch more pharma videos on @DES_Journal YouTube channel.

The Attack of the Pink Ribbons…

After the race…

pink-ribbon-attack
after the race… checkout our posts tagged pinkwashing

Quality of life can be more important when faced with an incurable disease

Terminal breast cancer leads woman to pick palliative care, not aggressive therapy

Amy Berman
How Amy Berman decided to live a good life with the time she has left.

… ” Faced with an incurable disease and a prognosis where only 11 to 20 percent survive to five years and there is no statistic for 10-year survival because it so rarely happens, I came to understand that my priority was to seek a “Niagara Falls trajectory” — to feel as well as possible for as long as possible, until I quickly go over the precipice. Quality of life is more important to me than quantity of days, if they are miserable days.

Following a discussion with my oncologist (a conversation that would be reimbursed if you in fact move ahead and change your rules), we initially decided on a palliative regime to slow the cancer’s spread with the least amount of burdensome side effects. We would not impose the most difficult curative treatments on an incurable disease. ” …

Read A nurse with fatal breast cancer says end-of-life discussions saved her life and Terminal breast cancer leads woman to pick palliative care, not aggressive therapy, both posts by Amy Berman, washingtonpost.

BPA linked to MIH tooth enamel abnormality in children

BPA Harms Dental Enamel in Young Animals, Mimicking Human Tooth Defect

children-smile
The researchers report that BPA stimulates ameloblast proliferation. Its mechanism of action is not entirely exerted through ERα in these cells especially on gene expression modulations, indicating that there are other additional pathways affected by BPA. Researchers also demonstrate, for the first time, that dental epithelial cells are estrogen targets and that an increase in proestrogenic activity has a greater effect on the enamel in male than in female rats. Researchers thus provide evidence of hormonal influence on amelogenesis and probably on sexual differences of enamel quality. Image by Sam Antonio Photography.

Endocrine Society – Hormone Science to Health – release: BPA Harms Dental Enamel in Young Animals, Mimicking Human Tooth Defect

San Diego, CA – A tooth enamel abnormality in children, molar incisor hypomineralization (MIH), may result from exposure to the industrial chemical Bisphenol A (BPA), authors of a new study conclude after finding similar damage to the dental enamel of rats that received BPA. The study – Estrogen and Bisphenol A Affect Male Rat Enamel Formation and Promote Ameloblast Proliferation – results was presented at the Endocrine Society’s 97th annual meeting in San Diego.

Human enamel defects may be used as an early marker of exposure to BPA and similar-acting endocrine disruptors,” Babajko said.

BPA is an endocrine disruptor, or hormone-altering chemical, that has been linked to numerous adverse health effects in humans. It appears in many plastic and resin household products and food containers, including until recently baby bottles, sippy cups and infant formula packages.

Dental enamel is the hard covering protecting the teeth. MIH causes white or brown opaque spots on an affected child’s permanent first molars and incisors (the middle four teeth on the top and bottom), which become sensitive, painful and prone to cavities. Recent published data show that MIH affects up to 18 percent of children ages 6 to 9 years. Although the cause is unclear, it appears to have an environmental origin, according to the study authors.

In the first part of the study, Sylvie Babajko, PhD, a researcher at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) in Paris, and her colleagues gave rats low doses of BPA, comparable to exposure in humans. The rats received BPA from fetal life to 30 days after birth. She said BPA caused enamel defects similar to MIH in humans, especially in male rats.

In part 2 of the study, the investigators cultured and looked at rat ameloblast cells, which are present only during the formation of tooth enamel, called amelogenesis. In humans, amelogenesis takes place from the third trimester of fetal development to 3 or 4 years after birth. This cell-based experiment showed that sex hormones target and influence dental epithelial cells.

Our study shows, for the first time, that BPA affects dental cells, and subsequently enamel synthesis, using similar target molecules as those present in other organs,” Babajko said.

She explained that these molecules are receptors for sex steroid hormones involved in organ development, endocrine homeostasis and hormone-sensitive cancers.

Babajko reported that an increase in estrogen activity had a greater effect on the tooth enamel in male rats than in female rats. This finding, she said, suggests possible sexual differences in enamel quality.

This work was funded by INSERM, the University Paris-Diderot and the French Institute of Odontological Research (IFRO).

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned BPA in baby bottles, sippy cups and infant formula packaging in 2012.