April 19, 2010

Study shows fatty foods may cause drug-like addiction -- similar brain responses to cupcakes and cocaine

According to a study published March 28, 2010, online in Nature Neuroscience journal, researchers have found that fatty foods may be addictive. When rats are exposed to high-fat junk foods their brains react similarly to when they are exposed to cocaine. This research, which confirms previous studies, is further evidence that the same addictive reaction between the brain and junk food may occur in humans.

The researchers divided similar rats into three groups.  Each group had unlimited access to regular rat chow, and in addition each group received either: 1) nothing else -- just regular rat chow, 2) some fattening human foods for one hour a day (plus unlimited rat chow), or 3) access to fattening human foods for 18-23 hours per day (plus unlimited rat chow). The study measured calories eaten, weight gain, and brain reward center response.  Rats with access to the high-fat palatable foods showed reduced brain responses, as well as increased calorie consumption and weight gain.

From a CNN Health Article describing the study:

Doing drugs such as cocaine and eating too much junk food both gradually overload the so-called pleasure centers in the brain, according to Paul J. Kenny, Ph.D., an associate professor of molecular therapeutics at the Scripps Research Institute, in Jupiter, Florida. Eventually the pleasure centers "crash," and achieving the same pleasure--or even just feeling normal--requires increasing amounts of the drug or food, says Kenny, the lead author of the study.

Thank you to William Mitchell College of Law students Scott Allen and Lauren Sparks for preparing this post.  Mr. Allen and Ms. Sparks are students of Professor Donna M. Byrne.

April 19, 2010 in Obesity, Scientific studies | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 13, 2010

Fat-Free = Fewer Nutrients: A Salad Study

Sometimes news takes a while to trickle through. 

A headline in the April 2010 issue of Cooking Light Magazine reads “Choose Fat-Free Dressing, and You’ll Miss Out on Many Nutrients.” Results from a 2004 Iowa State University study conducted by Associate Professor of Food Science and Nutrition Dr. Wendy S. White found that eating salads with fat-free or reduced-fat salad dressings is not as good for you as you may think.

The study brought to light that eating vegetables accompanied with little or no fat inhibits the absorption in the human body of cancer-fighting nutrients inherent in vegetables. The study acknowledges that eating a diet with moderate levels of fat is already recommended by U.S. dietary guidelines, but the study’s significance is its discovery that eating fat alongside vegetables, such as the fat found in salad dressings or other fats contained in salads improves the absorption of vegetables’ vitamins and minerals. Specifically, of those who ate salads with fat-free, low-fat, or full-fat (regular) salad dressings, the individuals who consumed salads with a higher fat content had a greater absorption of lycopene, alpha-carotene, and beta-carotene in its participants.

From the  Iowa State Press Release, 7-22-2004:

"We're certainly not advocating a high-fat diet, or one filled with full-fat salad dressing," White explained. "If you'd like to stick with fat-free dressing, the addition of small amounts of avocado or cheese in a salad may help along the absorption.

"Our findings are actually consistent with U.S. dietary guidelines, which support a diet moderate, rather than very low, in fat," White continued. "But what we found compelling was that some of our more popular healthful snacks, like baby carrots, really need to be eaten with a source of fat for us to absorb the beta carotene."

The study was published in the August 2004 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Here is the  abstract, and here is the link to the full text study.

Thank you to William Mitchell College of Law student Natalie Smith for preparing this post.  Ms. Smith is a student of Professor Donna M. Byrne.

April 13, 2010 in Dieting, Scientific studies | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 14, 2010

Farmed or wild fish: Which is healthier?

A recent CNN News article examined the debate between the benefits and risks of farmed and wild salmon. A  2006 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association(JAMA) concludes that the benefits will usually outweigh the risks.  From CNN:

. . . Subsequent research has found that the health benefits of both farmed and wild salmon exceed potential risks, said Eric Rimm, associate professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health [and co-author of the 2006 JAMA study]."It's clear that if there is any risk, the benefit is still in the range of 300 to 1,000 times greater from the fact that you're getting the omega-3s," he said.

Read more on CNN

Go to the 2006 JAMA study: Fish Intake, Contaminants, and Human Health,

This post was prepared by William Mitchell College of Law Student, Scott Allen.  Mr. Allen is a student of Professor Donna M. Byrne.

February 14, 2010 in Scientific studies | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 02, 2009

New study questions value of eating fish to reduce risk of heart failure

 European Society of Cardiology Press Release:

'No major role for fish' in the prevention of heart failure; only a possible beneficial effect in those with diabetes

The study is published on 30 September in the October issue of the European Journal of Heart Failure."Scientists and health authorities are increasingly persuaded that the intake of fish - even in small amounts - will protect against the risk of fatal myocardial infarction," said study investigator Dr Marianne Geleinjse from Wageningen University in the Netherlands. "However, there is no strong evidence that eating fish will protect against heart failure. One study has suggested that this might be so, but we could not confirm it in our cohort study of older Dutch people." 

. . . .

Results showed that the dietary intake of fish was not significantly related to heart failure incidence. . . .

Commenting on the public health implications of the study Dr Geleijnse said: "Many health authorities recommend two weekly servings of fish - particularly fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and herring - for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Based on our data we would not change this advice, even though fish intake was not associated with the development of heart failure in our cohort.  . . .

Read the full press release here

October 2, 2009 in Scientific studies | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 09, 2009

American Heart Association: Eat Less Sugar

The American Heart Association is now recommending we eat less sugar.  This is probably good news, since there's a possible sugar shortage ahead (blogged here).

From the AHA website:

Study highlights:

  • High intake of added sugars is implicated in numerous poor health conditions, including obesity, high blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease and stroke.
  • Added sugars and solid fats in food, as well as alcoholic beverages are categorized as “discretionary calories” and should be eaten sparingly.
  • Most American women should consume no more than 100 calories of added sugars per day; most men, no more than 150 calories.
  • Soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages are the number one source of added sugars in the American diet. 

DALLAS, Aug. 24, 2009 — A new American Heart Association scientific statement provides specific guidance on limiting the consumption of added sugars and provides information about the relationship between excess sugar intake and metabolic abnormalities, adverse health conditions and shortfalls in essential nutrients. The statement, published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, for the first time, provides the association’s recommendations on specific levels and limits on the consumption of added sugars.

more

September 9, 2009 in Dieting, Ingredients, nutrition policy, Scientific studies | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 25, 2009

Atrazine Herbicide Used on Corn May be Problem in Drinking Water

A report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) claims that EPA's current monitoring of drinking water misses spikes in herbicide levels.   

NRDC’s New Analysis Reveals Widespread Atrazine Contamination and Inadequate Regulation and Monitoring NRDC analyzed—in combination for the first time—the results of surface water and drinking water monitoring required by the EPA across the Midwestern and Southern United States. NRDC obtained these data from the EPA’s Ecological Watershed Monitoring Program (surface water) and the EPA’s Atrazine Monitoring Program (drinking water) as part of the settlement of litigation brought against the EPA and in response to two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests submitted to the agency. Our analysis resulted in seven major findings:

more (links to the report)

Read about the report at the Washington Post

Hat tip: Steven H. Sholk 

August 25, 2009 in Farming, Food and Drink, Scientific studies | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 24, 2009

Study Finds Mercury Contamination in Freshwater Fish Nationwide

Department of Interior press release:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Scientists detected mercury contamination in every fish sampled in 291 streams across the country, according to a U.S. Geological Survey study released [August 19, 2009].

About a quarter of these fish were found to contain mercury at levels exceeding the criterion for the protection of people who consume average amounts of fish, established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. More than two-thirds of the fish exceeded the U.S. EPA level of concern for fish-eating mammals.

“This study shows just how widespread mercury pollution has become in our air, watersheds, and many of our fish in freshwater streams,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “This science sends a clear message that our country must continue to confront pollution, restore our nation’s waterways, and protect the public from potential health dangers.”  

Some of the highest levels of mercury in fish were found in the tea-colored or “blackwater” streams in North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Louisiana — areas associated with relatively undeveloped forested watersheds containing abundant wetlands compared to the rest of the country. High levels of mercury in fish also were found in relatively undeveloped watersheds in the Northeast and the Upper Midwest. Elevated levels are noted in areas of the Western United States affected by mining. Complete findings of the USGS report, as well as additional detailed studies in selected streams, are available online. . . .

continue reading

August 24, 2009 in Current Affairs, Fisheries, food safety, Scientific studies | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 11, 2009

Nano beta-carotene -- natural food color?

Here are the parts I understand: beta-carotene is the naturally occurring substance that makes carrots orange.  It can be used to color foods (and if you eat really a lot of carrots, you actually turn a little orange).

Nanotechnology is the use of nano-particles, particles that are so small that the substance has different chemical properties than its conventional version. 

Nanotechnology is pretty new, and the possibilities are almost endless.  So I raised my eyebrows when I read this blurb on beveragedaily.com :

Nanostructures composed of alginic acid cross-linked by calcium ions could entrap beta-carotene, a fat-soluble compound, which could then be used to naturally colour water-based foods, researchers from Louisiana State University Agricultural Center and the University of Arkansas report in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

read the blurb

And here are the details on the article: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Published online ahead of print, ASAP Article, doi:10.1021/jf900563a
"Ca2+ Cross-Linked Alginic Acid Nanoparticles for Solubilization of Lipophilic Natural Colorants." Authors: C.E. Astete, C.M. Sabliov, F. Watanabe, A. Biris

August 11, 2009 in Scientific studies | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 04, 2009

Fisheries Over-exploitation Declining

A study published in Science magazine examines the state of global fisheries after years of efforts to reduce overfishing:

Rebuilding Global Fisheries

Abstract: After a long history of overexploitation, increasing efforts to restore marine ecosystems and rebuild fisheries are under way. Here, we analyze current trends from a fisheries and conservation perspective. In 5 of 10 well-studied ecosystems, the average exploitation rate has recently declined and is now at or below the rate predicted to achieve maximum sustainable yield for seven systems. Yet 63% of assessed fish stocks worldwide still require rebuilding, and even lower exploitation rates are needed to reverse the collapse of vulnerable species. Combined fisheries and conservation objectives can be achieved by merging diverse management actions, including catch restrictions, gear modification, and closed areas, depending on local context. Impacts of international fleets and the lack of alternatives to fishing complicate prospects for rebuilding fisheries in many poorer regions, highlighting the need for a global perspective on rebuilding marine resources.

Science 31 July 2009:
Vol. 325. no. 5940, pp. 578 - 585
DOI: 10.1126/science.1173146

August 4, 2009 in Fisheries, Scientific studies | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 29, 2009

Wonder Foods, Part 2 -- Grapefruit

According to a favorite xkcd cartoon, grapefruit is difficult to eat and UNtasty.  But it does seem to be good for us.

US News.com just ran one of those fun little collections of wonder foods. The five foods in the article are Blue M&M's, Grapefruit, Peas, Watermelon and Chocolate.:

Can Blue M&M's, Blue Gatorade Protect Your Spine? Surprisingly Helpful Foods -- 5 foods or food additives that may pack unexpected health benefits

. . .new research finds grapefruit is ripe with a type of antioxidant that may prevent obesity and protect against type 2 diabetes. Findings newly published in an online issue of the journal Diabetes showed that naringenin, a type of antioxidant called a flavonoid, decreased cholesterol production and stabilized metabolism in mice fed a fat-laden diet. . .

For the full study see http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2009/07/09/db09-0634.abstract?sid=bbe60ffb-34c9-448c-8391-64e4d27f2eb5

Thank you to Laura Bantle for this item.

July 29, 2009 in Scientific studies | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wonder foods, Part I -- Blue M&M's

US News.com just ran one of those fun little collections of wonder foods. The five foods in the article are Blue M&M's, Grapefruit, Peas, Watermelon and Chocolate.:

Can Blue M&M's, Blue Gatorade Protect Your Spine? Surprisingly Helpful Foods -- 5 foods or food additives that may pack unexpected health benefits

Blue M&M's -- Blue Dye No. 1, used in blue M&M's is almost identical to another blue dye that helped rats with spine injuries recover, according to a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The dye did temporarily turn the rats blue.

But not brown ones! -- This was news to me, but is evidently well known in some circles. A backstage concert rider (contract clause) specified what munchies should be provided, including M&M's, but "absolutely no brown ones."  The rider is available on The Conglomerate blog.

July 29, 2009 in Scientific studies | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 21, 2009

Researchers Question Safety of GMOs

A study recently published in the International Journal of Biological Science questions the safety conclusions regarding consumption of genetically modified organisms.  The researchers state that toxic effects seem undeniable.  The official abstract is kind of a tough read, but here's an excerpt from the Conclusion:

All these observations taken together in our opinions do not allow a clear statement of toxic effects, but to suggest them as such, because they are clearly undeniable. Now, to any good researcher similar results would mean that there is much to be improved in the planning of experimental design; and thus to increase their resolution power to obtain unequivocal statements, for instance increasing the duration and/or the number of rats tested. Generally speaking it seems to us unbelievable that a risk assessment carried out only on forty rats of each sex receiving GM rich diets for 90 days (yielding results often at the limits of significance) have not been repeated and prolonged independently. We should overall take into account the fact that the analysed GM product could be fed long-term to people and animals of various ages and sexes, and with various pathologies.

We call for more serious standardized tests such as those used for pesticides or drugs, on at least three mammalian species tested for at least three months employing larger sample sizes, and up to one and two years before commercialization, for GM food or feed specifically modified to contain pesticide residues. We also call for a serious scientific debate about the criteria for testing significant adverse health effects for pesticides or chemicals, . . .

The full text of the study is available on the journal's website. 

Sralini GE, de Vendmois JS, Cellier D, Sultan C, Buiatti M, Gallagher L, Antoniou M, Dronamraju KR. How Subchronic and Chronic Health Effects can be Neglected for GMOs, Pesticides or Chemicals. Int J Biol Sci 2009; 5:438-443.

Thank you to William Mitchell College of Law student, Laura Bantle, for this item.

July 21, 2009 in GMOs, Scientific studies | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Study: Fish Consumption Associated with Lower Rates of Dementia

A recent study confirmed earlier findings of an association between fish consumption and lower incidence of dementia in many lower and middle income countries.  The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition:

Dietary fish and meat intake and dementia in Latin America, China, and India: a 10/66 Dementia Research Group population-based study

2009;90:392–400.

Am J Clin Nutr

ABSTRACT
Background: Evidence of an association between fish and meat
consumption and risk of dementia is inconsistent and nonexistent
in populations in developing countries.

Objective: The objective was to investigate associations between
fish and meat consumption with dementia in low- and middleincome
countries.

Design: One-phase cross-sectional surveys were conducted in all
residents aged 65 y in 11 catchment areas in China, India, Cuba,
the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Mexico, and Peru. A total of
14,960 residents were assessed by using the 10/66 standardized
protocol, which includes face-to-face interviews for dietary habits
and a cross-culturally validated dementia diagnosis.

Results: Dietary intakes and the prevalence of dementia varied
between sites. We combined site-specific Poisson regression prevalence
ratios (PRs) for the association between fish and meat consumption
and dementia in 2 fixed-effect model meta-analyses
adjusted for sociodemographic and health characteristics and fish
and meat consumption as appropriate. We found a dose-dependent
inverse association between fish consumption and dementia (PR:
0.81; 95% CI: 0.72, 0.91) that was consistent across all sites except
India and a less-consistent, dose-dependent, direct association between
meat consumption and prevalence of dementia (PR: 1.19;
95% CI: 1.07, 1.31).

Conclusions: Our results extend findings on the associations of fish
and meat consumption with dementia risk to populations in lowand
middle-income countries and are consistent with mechanistic
data on the neuroprotective actions of omega-3 (n–3) long-chain
polyunsaturated fatty acids commonly found in fish. The inverse
association between fish and prevalent dementia is unlikely to result
from poorer dietary habits among demented individuals (reverse
causality) because meat consumption was higher in those with a diagnosis
of dementia.

July 21, 2009 in Scientific studies | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 08, 2009

More Children taking Diabetes and Blood Pressure Drugs

According to a recent study in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, the number of children taking drugs for diabetes and hypertension is increasing. From a Forbes article:

“[R]esearchers at Caremark, a large supplier of medications to people with heath insurance, used the company's drug database to track prescriptions filled on behalf of children and adolescents…”

After examing 6 million children between the ages of 6 and 18, the study concluded that “Diabetes medications charted a 23 percent rise, and there was a 15 percent jump in pediatric prescriptions for blood pressure medications.”

The head researcher for the study is Joshua N. Liberman, who is Pharmacist and Vice-President of Strategic Research at Caremark. Here is a link to an abstract of the study.

Thank you to William Mitchell College of Law student, John McVoy, for preparing this post.

April 8, 2009 in Scientific studies | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 31, 2009

Red Meat – The Killer in Disguise?

According to a study recently published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, diets high in red meat and processed meats may have some connection to mortality rates. The study took place over a ten-year period, and included over half a million people within the 50 to 71 age range. Rebecca Ruiz of Forbes.com reports:

“The study . . . found that 11% and 16% of deaths in men and women, respectively, would have been less likely with diminished red meat intake.”

“Funded by the National Cancer Institute, the study also associated red meat intake with higher cancer and cardiovascular mortality rates, the two leading causes of death in the U.S..”

Notably, the study itself indicates consumption of red meat was not the only factor associated with the higher risk levels for overall mortality. Certain lifestyle choices and eating habits also contributed to the increased hazard ratios between the lowest and highest quintiles of red meat eaters:

“Subjects who consumed more red meat tended to be married, more likely of non-Hispanic white ethnicity, more likely a current smoker, have a higher body mass index, and have a higher daily intake of energy, total fat, and saturated fat, and they tended to have lower education and physical activity levels and lower fruit, vegetable, fiber, and vitamin supplement intakes.”

“Overall, we did not find statistically significant association between meat consumption and deaths from injury and sudden deaths in most instances.”

Thank you to William Mitchell College of Law student, Sophie Morgan, for preparing this post.

March 31, 2009 in Scientific studies | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 11, 2009

FDA and Eight Academic and Research Institutions to Collaborate Under Nanotechnology Initiative

Although much of the nanotechnology focus probably pertains to drugs, nanotechnology also has implications for food use, so here goes . . . FDA News Release, 3/10/2009:

FDA and Eight Academic and Research Institutions to Collaborate Under Nanotechnology Initiative

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today [March 10] unveiled a new collaboration initiative with the Houston-based Alliance for NanoHealth (ANH) and its eight member institutions to help speed development of safe and effective medical products in the emerging field of nanotechnology.

Under a Memorandum of Understanding, the FDA/ANH Nanotechnology Initiative will work to expand knowledge of how nanoparticles behave and affect biologic systems, and to facilitate the development of tests and processes that might mitigate the risks associated with nanoengineered products. All outcomes from this public-private partnership will be placed in the public domain for the benefit of all stakeholders.

"FDA's Nanotechnology Initiative with the Alliance for NanoHealth is an effort to engage resources and technical expertise in this rapidly advancing field and is a clear example of leveraging science and scientists to advance the public good," said the FDA's Acting Commissioner, Frank M. Torti, M.D., M.P.H. "Nanotechnology holds great promise for the advancement of novel medical products."

Nanotechnology involves the creation and use of materials at the level of molecules and atoms and presents challenges and opportunities for the FDA's entire regulatory product jurisdiction, from food to medical devices to therapeutics.

The eight academic institutions include Baylor College of Medicine, the University of Texas' M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Rice University, the University of Houston, the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Texas A & M Health Science Center, the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, and the Methodist Hospital Research Institute.

"We are delighted with this partnership between the FDA and the eight institutions that constitute the Alliance for NanoHealth," said Larry Kaiser, M.D., president, the University of Texas Health Science Center, on behalf of the ANH and its eight member institutions. "We see this agreement as an important step on the path to taking advantage of the enormous power of nanotechnology to improve the diagnosis and treatment of disease."

FDA's collaboration with the ANH is an example of the agency's Critical Path Initiative, launched in 2004 to work on next generation tools such as new assays, new biomarkers, better clinical trial designs and better endpoints and new manufacturing methods to encourage the development of efficient and effective FDA-regulated products

March 11, 2009 in Scientific studies | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 17, 2009

New Drug for Celiacs?


The Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University is conducting a new study that may help individuals recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease. The study is testing a drug that may allow people to heal intestinal damage faster than the gluten-free diet alone.

The Celiac Chicks website gives the qualifications requied for participation in the study.

Here is a link to the Celiac Center at Columbia University
http://www.celiacdiseasecenter.columbia.edu/CF-HOME.htm

Thank you to William Mitchell College of Law student John McVoy for this information.


February 17, 2009 in Scientific studies | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 11, 2008

Study: corn present in most fast food

Found this one on Wired Science:

"That the $100-billion fast food industry rests on a foundation of corn has been known more through inference and observation than hard scientific fact — until now.

Chemical analysis from restaurants across the United States shows that nearly every cow or chicken used in fast food is raised on a diet of corn, prompting fresh criticism of the government's role in subsidizing poor eating habits. "

Here's an abstract for the study that provided the chemical analysis:

Carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes in fast food: Signatures of corn and confinement,
A. Hope Jahren and Rebecca A. Kraft

Americans spend >100 billion dollars on restaurant fast food each year; fast food meals comprise a disproportionate amount of both meat and calories within the U.S. diet. We used carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes to infer the source of feed to meat animals, the source of fat within fries, and the extent of fertilization and confinement inherent to production. We sampled food from McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's chains, purchasing >480 servings of hamburgers, chicken sandwiches and fries within geographically distributed U.S. cities: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Detroit, Boston, and Baltimore. From the entire sample set of beef and chicken, only 12 servings of beef had δ13C < −21‰; for these animals only was a food source other than corn possible. We observed remarkably invariant values of δ15N in both beef and chicken, reflecting uniform confinement and exposure to heavily fertilized feed for all animals. The δ13C value of fries differed significantly among restaurants indicating that the chains used different protocols for deep-frying: Wendy's clearly used only corn oil, whereas McDonald's and Burger King favored other vegetable oils; this differed from ingredient reports. Our results highlighted the overwhelming importance of corn agriculture within virtually every aspect of fast food manufacture.

November 11, 2008 in Scientific studies | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 19, 2008

Prenatal maternal diet affects asthma risk in offspring

A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation suggests that a mother's use of folic acid supplements during pregnancy may contribute to development of asthma in her children. This was a mouse study that sought to test the notion that changes in the mother's diet could cause "changes in DNA methylation resulting in aberrant gene transcription" resulting in development of allergic airway disease in the child.

Here's how HealthDay describes the study:

The study, by researchers at National Jewish Health and Duke University, found that pregnant mice fed diets high in supplements containing methyl-donors (folic acid, L-methionine, choline and genistein) had babies with more severe allergic airway disease than mice born to mothers that consumed diets low in methyl-containing foods.

The mice born to mothers fed high methyl-donor diets had greater asthma severity, more airway hyperactivity, more allergic inflammation in the airways, higher levels of IgE in their blood, and their immune system T-cells were more likely to be the type associated with allergy. Male offspring also transmitted a higher predisposition to allergy airway disease to their pups.

The current issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation also includes an editorial, Prenatal maternal diet affects asthma risk in offspring, by Rachel L. Miller:

. . .One cannot ignore the observation that the increase in asthma prevalence over recent decades approximately coincides with worldwide campaigns that recommend periconceptional dietary folate supplementation. From a public health perspective, the adverse nonrespiratory health consequences of insufficient prenatal folate consumption are legitimate concerns. But an even broader public health issue has surfaced. If confirmed, prenatal exposures may influence the development of asthma not only for our children, but for their children as well.

Here is the study: In utero supplementation with methyl donors enhances allergic airway disease in mice, by John W. Hollingsworth, Shuichiro Maruoka, Kathy Boon, Stavros Garantziotis, Zhuowei Li, John Tomfohr, Nathaniel Bailey, Erin N. Potts, Gregory Whitehead, David M. Brass and David A. Schwartz.

In 1996, the FDA required folate fortification of many flours and flour products in order to prevent spina bifida and other neural tube defects:

In keeping with the recommendations of PHS and the FDA Food Advisory Committee called to study these issues, the Food and Drug Administration is requiring that folic acid be added to specific flour, breads and other grains. These foods were chosen for fortification with folate because they are staple products for most of the U.S. population, and because they have a long history of being successful vehicles for improving nutrition to reduce the risk of classic nutrient deficiency diseases.

These fortified foods include most enriched breads, flours, corn meals, rice, noodles, macaroni and other grain products.

[For what it's worth, I refused to take folic acid supplements, but I made sure I got the full RDA by eating fortified cereal while I was pregnant.  My kids both had childhood asthma (but then, I have asthma too).]  DMB

September 19, 2008 in Children, Ingredients, nutrition policy, Scientific studies, supplements | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 15, 2008

FDA Nanotechnology Public Meeting Sept 8, 2008

From the FDA:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is announcing a public meeting to gather information that will assist the Agency in implementing the recommendations of the Nanotechnology Task Force Report. For more information on the Nanotechnology Task Force and for a copy of this Report please visit: http://www.fda.gov/nanotechnology/.

Part of the meeting will deal with Food and Color Additives, including food contact substances.  Some of the questions to be addressed are:

  1. Can you identify specific classes of food ingredients or packaging components derived from or incorporating nanotechnology that you would identify as raising or not raising unique safety concerns and why?
  2. In your experience, what analytical methods and tools have proven to be of the most use to you in characterizing nanoscale materials?  Looking to the future, can you suggest methods that might be developed or refined to augment those methods currently used?
  3. What physical characteristics of food-related nanoscale materials are of greatest concern regarding the safety of dietary consumption?
  4. Nanoscale food ingredients and food packaging may behave differently than macroscale materials.  For example, nanoscale materials may agglomerate in food, interact with other components of the food matrix, and interact in the human body following ingestion.  What methods are you using to characterize nanoscale materials in the food matrix and in the human body following ingestion?
  5. Are the current FDA Redbook  toxicological endpoints and array of toxicity tests used for assessing the safety of macroscale food ingredients and packaging components sufficient to describe the toxicity of their nanoscale counterparts, or must new endpoints and assays be considered? Are you aware of any other toxicity tests not presently in wide use that may be more suitable?  Are there toxicity tests that could be used to bridge data on macroscale ingredients to their nanoscale counterparts?
  6. Is nanotechnology applied to food ingredient and food packaging production primarily to create new effects for such compounds or to enhance existing effects?  What are the perceived impacts on regulatory status or good manufacturing practice in each of these scenarios?
  7. How can FDA better communicate issues of regulatory status and safety of food ingredients and packaging components derived from nanotechnology to the public and industry?

More from the FDA website -- includes meeting specifics, agenda, federal register notice, and how to submit comments.  The deadline for comments is October 24, 2008.

Here's another source for information on nanotechnology: National Nanotechnology Initiative (http://www.nano.gov/)

August 15, 2008 in Scientific studies | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack