Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[News release] New knowledge strengthens risk assessment of chemical cocktails in food

From the THURSDAY 19 MAR 15 Technical University news release By Miriam Meister 

Cocktaileffekt

Denmark’s largest research project on chemical cocktail effects infood, spearheaded by the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, has just been completed. It has established that even small doses of chemicals can have significant negative effects if they are present together. A reliable method for calculating the effects of chemical cocktails has been developed in the project. The project has also shown a need for limiting the Danish population’s exposure to certain substances.

The fact that the traditional way of assessing potential harmful effects of chemicals only takes the individual chemicals into account has long been of concern. Especially since this approach does not take into account the effects that can occur in humans when the chemicals are present at the same time in a cocktail. A serious concern is that substances can amplify each other’s effects, so that their combined effect becomes greater than what can be predicted by looking at the individual chemicals.

“Our research shows that indeed, little strokes fell great oaks also when it comes to chemical exposure. Going forward this insight has a profound impact on the way we should assess the risk posed by chemicals weare exposed to through the foods we eat.”

A recently completed, four-year research project on cocktail effects in foods, led by the National Food Institute, has established that when two or more chemicals appear together, they often have an additive effect. This means that cocktail effects can be predicted based on information from single chemicals, but also that small amounts of chemicals when present together can have significant negative effects.

”Our research shows that indeed, little strokes fell great oaks also when it comes to chemical exposure. Going forward this insight has a profound impact on the way we should assess the risk posed by chemicals we are exposed to through the foods we eat,” Professor Anne Marie Vinggaard from the National Food Institute says.

Danes’ exposure to chemicals via foods

In order to assess the risk posed by various chemicals, it is essential to know what the typical human exposure to a particular chemical is. The cocktail project has created an overview of the amount of pesticides and other contaminants that humans are exposed to via foods.

This work has shown that Danes’ intake of pesticides through foods is relatively limited. However, there is a need for reducing exposure to substances such as lead, cadmium, PCBs and dioxins.

The endocrine disrupting effects of chemicals have generally not been adequately studied. However, in cases where knowledge about the effects is available, the results show a need to reduce the intake of endocrine disrupting chemicals from current levels, such as phthalates and fluorinated chemicals.

March 21, 2015 Posted by | Nutrition, Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[New Scientist Article] Data trackers monitor your life so they can nudge you

From the 7 November 2013 New Scientist article by Hal Hodson

Once you know everything about a person, you can influence their behaviour. A thousand students with tattletale phones are going to find out how easy that is

THERE’S something strange about this year’s undergraduate class at the Technical University of Denmark – they all have exactly the same kind of phone.

The phones are tracking everywhere the students go, who they meet and when, and every text they send. Around 1000 students are volunteers in the largest-ever experiment of its kind, one that could change our understanding of how we interact in groups.

Sune Lehmann and Arek Stopczynski of DTU are using the data to build a model of the social network the students live in – who talks to who, where groups gather. They plan to test whether the results can be used for purposes like boosting student achievement, or even improving mental health. “We hope to be able to figure out how to make this work in terms of academic performance,” says Lehmann.

This is sociology on a different scale, gathering detailed data about an entire group and then using that information to “nudge” them into changing their behaviour. Used ethically, the results could improve the way society works, transforming everything from healthcare and public transport to education and governance. Used for the wrong reasons, it could be extremely dangerous.

Used ethically, the results could improve the way society works, transforming everything from healthcare and public transport to education and governance. Used for the wrong reasons, it could be extremely dangerous.

Used ethically, the results could improve the way society works, transforming everything from healthcare and public transport to education and governance. Used for the wrong reasons, it could be extremely dangerous. a 2010 study, participants were encouraged to boost their activity levels either through personal rewards, or rewards given to a buddy who was supposed to keep tabs on them. Being motivated by an incentivised buddy resulted in twice the activity increase of the direct reward.

..nudges related to public health could be as simple as allowing doctors to ring up their patients when their activity levels start to follow patterns that correlate with, say, diabetes or depression, and asking them if they are feeling OK.

But we shouldn’t lose sight of the potential dark side, says Evan Selinger, a technology ethicist at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. “There is extraordinary power in the access to data at a personal level – even predicting future behaviour,” he says. “There’s a lot to be gained, but there’s a lot of problems that scare the living ******** out of me.”

 

 

 

November 8, 2013 Posted by | Psychology, Public Health | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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