Tag Archives: pharma

ADHD Caused by Pesticides?

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It looks like another blow to the manufacturers of pesticides and other oil-based derivatives to grow our food:

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/05/17/pesticides.adhd/index.html?hpt=T2

This is an extremely compelling argument to go local and buy organic.

Now, how long do you think it will be before dozens of ‘pundits’ start slamming the merits of the study?  It’s probably already happened.

Copy of story posted below:

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Is enough being done to protect us from chemicals that could harm us? Watch “Toxic America,” a special two-night investigative report with Sanjay Gupta M.D., June 2 & 3 at 8 p.m. ET on CNN.

(Health.com) — Children exposed to higher levels of a type of pesticide found in trace amounts on commercially grown fruit and vegetables are more likely to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder than children with less exposure, a nationwide study suggests.

Researchers measured the levels of pesticide byproducts in the urine of 1,139 children from across the United States. Children with above-average levels of one common byproduct had roughly twice the odds of getting a diagnosis of ADHD, according to the study, which appears in the journal Pediatrics.

Exposure to the pesticides, known as organophosphates, has been linked to behavioral and cognitive problems in children in the past, but previous studies have focused on communities of farm workers and other high-risk populations. This study is the first to examine the effects of exposure in the population at large.

Organophosphates are “designed” to have toxic effects on the nervous system, says the lead author of the study, Maryse Bouchard, Ph.D., a researcher in the department of environmental and occupational health at the University of Montreal. “That’s how they kill pests.”

The pesticides act on a set of brain chemicals closely related to those involved in ADHD, Bouchard explains, “so it seems plausible that exposure to organophosphates could be associated with ADHD-like symptoms.”

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Environmental Protection Agency regulations have eliminated most residential uses for the pesticides (including lawn care and termite extermination), so the largest source of exposure for children is believed to be food, especially commercially grown produce. Adults are exposed to the pesticides as well, but young children appear to be especially sensitive to them, the researchers say.

Video: Study: ADHD linked to pesticides

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Detectable levels of pesticides are present in a large number of fruits and vegetables sold in the U.S., according to a 2008 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture cited in the study. In a representative sample of produce tested by the agency, 28 percent of frozen blueberries, 20 percent of celery, and 25 percent of strawberries contained traces of one type of organophosphate. Other types of organophosphates were found in 27 percent of green beans, 17 percent of peaches, and 8 percent of broccoli.

Although kids should not stop eating fruits and vegetables, buying organic or local produce whenever possible is a good idea, says Bouchard.

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“Organic fruits and vegetables contain much less pesticides, so I would certainly advise getting those for children,” she says. “National surveys have also shown that fruits and vegetables from farmers’ markets contain less pesticides even if they’re not organic. If you can buy local and from farmers’ markets, that’s a good way to go.”

A direct cause-and-effect link between pesticides and ADHD “is really hard to establish,” says Dana Boyd Barr, Ph.D., a professor of environmental and occupational health at Emory University. However, she says, “There appears to be some relation between organophosphate pesticide exposure and the development of ADHD.”

This is the largest study of its kind to date, according to Barr, who researched pesticides for more than 20 years in her previous job with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention but was not involved in the study.

Bouchard and her colleagues analyzed urine samples from children ages 8 to 15. The samples were collected during an annual, nationwide survey conducted by the CDC, known as the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

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The researchers tested the samples for six chemical byproducts (known as metabolites) that result when the body breaks down more than 28 different pesticides. Nearly 95 percent of the children had at least one byproduct detected in their urine.

Just over 10 percent of the children in the study were diagnosed with ADHD. The kids were judged to have ADHD if their symptoms (as reported by parents) met established criteria for the disorder, or if they had taken ADHD medication regularly in the previous year.

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One group of pesticide byproducts was associated with a substantially increased risk of ADHD. Compared with kids who had the lowest levels, the kids whose levels were 10 times higher were 55 percent more likely to have ADHD. (Another group of byproducts did not appear to be linked to the disorder.)

In addition, children with higher-than-average levels of the most commonly detected byproduct — found in roughly 6 in 10 kids — were nearly twice as likely to have ADHD.

“It’s not a small effect,” says Bouchard. “This is 100 percent more risk.”

To isolate the effect of the pesticide exposure on ADHD symptoms, the researchers controlled for a variety of health and demographic factors that could have skewed the results.

Still, the study had some limitations and is not definitive, Bouchard says. Most notably, she and her colleagues measured only one urine sample for each child, and therefore weren’t able to track whether the levels of pesticide byproducts were constant, or whether the association between exposure and ADHD changed over time.

Health.com: What if my child begins showing ADHD symptoms?

Long-term studies including multiple urine samples from the same children are needed, Bouchard says. She suspects such studies would show an even stronger link between pesticide byproducts and ADHD.

EPA spokesman Dale Kemery said in a statement that the agency routinely reviews the safety of all pesticides, including organophosphates. “We are currently developing a framework to incorporate data from studies similar to this one into our risk assessment,” Kemery said. “We will look at this study and use the framework to decide how it fits into our overall risk assessment.”

Kemery recommended that parents try other pest-control tactics before resorting to pesticide use in the home or garden. Washing and peeling fruits and vegetables and eating “a varied diet” will also help reduce potential exposure to pesticides, he said.

“I would hope that this study raises awareness as to the risk associated with pesticide exposure,” Bouchard says. “There’s really only a handful of studies on this subject out there, so there’s room for more awareness.”

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HPV Vaccinations: Killing Girls Slowly?

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This article leaves a lot to be desired for the decision to vaccinate a lot of young Canadian girls with HPV treatment.

I think we need to re-evaluate why we were in such a rush to spend $300 million on a drug that may not have been adequately tested, especially when we’re ready to go to election again over $28 million in public finance for political campaigns.

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Research I’d Like to See for Canada

(In the UK) Drug giants accused over doctors’ perks: Original story here

Here are some examples:

  • Astra Zeneca paid £2,500 for a doctor at the Royal Bournemouth trust and £1,500 for a doctor at Sheffield teaching hospital to attend a cancer conference in Texas
  • Sanofi-Aventis, the world’s fourth biggest pharmaceutical company, paid for doctors at the Countess of Chester trust to go to conferences in Cape Town, New Orleans and Barcelona. At Gateshead trust, their reps gave a breakfast for 30 staff "to discuss drugs for the treatment of breast cancer". The trust’s register records that "the donor was seeking to secure business".
  • Roche spent £2,000 for an oncology consultant at Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge to go to a conference in May last year.
  • GSK, the biggest British pharmaceutical company, paid £1,200 for a consultant at Sheffield teaching hospital to attend the 11th international congress of Parkinson’s disease and movement disorders in Turkey last June.
  • Companies have also been taking hospital staff to top football and rugby matches. Carillion, a public sector construction firm, spent £180 taking a senior manager at Milton Keynes trust to lunch and then a rugby match at Twickenham last August.

And the best quote of all:

Most doctors deny that their reliance on drug company cash makes them biased. The pharmaceutical companies argue that they are helping doctors acquire further medical education by funding their trips to conferences in foreign cities, but they refuse to reveal how much they pay out.

In Canada, we’ve hit the level of having health care at any price.  The Romanow report identified that pharmaceuticals make up one of the largest components of our spend on our health and we should have a nationalized system of generic drugs in order to mitigate the impact of these costs.

I believe that it’s the massive profits going to pharma companies that are threatening the stability of our health care system and that we should follow the Romanow recommendations (most of which have been largely ignored by our leaders).  More importantly, we should encourage the development of a health care system, where people have the right to choose from a list of options (including naturopathic solutions) as opposed to being bullied by practitioners into taking the latest cosmetic drug.

What are your thoughts?