Chemical Plastic

October 24, 2011

Scientists form American and Japan Won the The 2010 Nobel Prize in Chemistry in Common


The 2010 Nobel Prize in Chemistry goes to the University of Delaware’s Richard Heck, Purdue’s Ei-ichi Negishi and Hokkaido University’s Akira Suzuki for their work in developing new ways to synthesize complex organic molecules by way of what are called palladium-catalyzed cross-couplings.

Two organic compounds that ordinarily would not readily react with other easily both bond to an atom of palladium. Carbon atoms on the two molecules, now in close proximity, bond to each other, forming a new compound.

Biochemist Lars Thelander at the announcement from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences: “Palladium-catalyzed cross-coupling has made it possible to synthesize carbon based molecules, for example, new medicines, agricultural chemicals and organic compounds used in the electronics industry.”

A prime example is discodermalide, produced naturally by a marine sponge, but in very small quantities. After it was found to have anti-tumor properties, large quantities were able to be made using palladium-catalyzed cross-coupling.

September 21, 2011

New Study Show Evidences that BPA May Cause Breast Cancer

In a study published on September 1, 2011, researchers suggest that BPA (bisphenol-A) and methylparaben (collectively referred to here as “BPA”) could inhibit the effectiveness of new breast cancer drugs, and potentially cause healthy breast cells to act similar to cancerous cells.

BPA is a chemical used in everyday life; it is found in plastic food containers, the lining of canned food and soda cans, water bottles, other plastic items, and sometimes even on cash register receipts. Methyalpaben is a chemical commonly used in beauty products.

The study, published in the Oxford University Press Journal, Carcinogenesis, found that healthy breast cells, when exposed to BPA and methylparaben, triggered mTOR, the cell mechanism that controls cancer growth. Because the study focuses on BPA and methylparaben and the ability of these chemicals to convert healthy cells into cancerous cells, the findings of the study are also relevant in understanding cancer in women and provides insight for preventative care.

During the study, Drs. Goodson and Dairkee took samples of healthy breast epithelial cells from women that were high-risk for developing cancer or had a personal history of breast cancer. Then, the samples were grown and exposed to BPA at levels similar to those found today in blood, breastmilk, and placental tissue. The researchers found that some of the samples after exposure to the chemicals BPA and methylparaben demonstrated activation of the cell’s central mechanism that controls cancer growth.

Additionally, the study found that when healthy breast cells were exposed to the cancer-preventing drug Tamoxifen after exposure to BPA, the cells did not die as hypothesized. Tamoxifen is proven to trigger “cell death” or apoptosis in the cancer cells when used to treat patients with cancer, so this is both a surprising and troubling finding. Additionally, the study found that BPA also prevented cancer cell death that is known to be triggered by the drug Rapamycin, which is part of a newer class of anti-cancer drugs that were designed to turn off the cancer growth gene. Thus, this study seems to indicate that exposure to BPA and methylparaben may inhibit the effectiveness of cancer fighting drugs.

“We don’t know yet how reversible these effects of BPA are, particularly if cancer has already developed,” says Dr. Goodson. “But it is intriguing to speculate that reducing BPA exposure might have a beneficial effect on any malignant changes that have been induced, and even decrease the overall risk of cancer.”

This is just one of a number of studies that continue to provide us with further evidence regarding the harmful effects of BPA. Presently, Chicago has initiated a ban on baby bottles and cups that contain BPA. Canada went so far as to list BPA as a toxic substance under its environmental protection act and has introduced regulations that will ban selling, advertising, manufacturing or importing baby bottles with BPA-related plastics.

Nowadays, BPA products are embedded into our daily life: from the makeup we wear in the morning, heating our plastic lunch boxes, grabbing a BPA-plastic water bottle, or grabbing a soda can at dinner; we are surrounded in BPA. We have a long way to go to understand the effects of BPA and take effective action to protect ourselves.

August 15, 2011

Food with Fake Fats May Promote Weight Gain

Guide: Counting on food with fake fats to help you slip into last year’s bathing suit? Better count again.

A new study with rats shows that low-cal fat substitutes can actually promote weight gain. The work appears in the journal Behavioral Neuroscience. (Susan Swithers, Sean Ogden and Terry Davidson, “Fat Substitutes Promote Weight Gain in Rats Consuming High-Fat Diets”)

Dieters can choose from an array of snacktackular options in which sugars and fats are replaced by artificial, low-calorie substitutes. That sleight of hand seems ingenious. You can let your body think it’s getting the sweets and fats it craves while keeping the calorie count to a minimum.

But the new study suggests that this strategy is likely to backfire. Rats that consumed a mix of full-fat chips and chips with olestra wound up eating more and got fatter than rats that noshed on regular chips alone.

Their bodies were apparently getting mixed messages. A mouthful of fat is usually a signal that calories are coming, and the body reacts by getting ready to burn fuel. But olestra, which tastes like fat, carries no calories at all. So the body soon learns to stand down in the face of fat. All fat. Even real fat. Because as Shakespeare almost said, a chip by any other name still swells your seat.

May 9, 2011

Prenatal BPA Exposure May causes Asthma in Children

Guide: Exposure to the chemical bisphenol A during early pregnancy may cause asthma in children, according to a Penn State College of Medicine researcher.

Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a chemical found in many consumer products, including plastic water bottles and food containers, according to a news release from the College of Medicine. It is present in more than 90 percent of the U.S. population, suggesting widespread exposure.

In their study of 367 pairs of mothers and infants, researchers from the Penn State College of Medicine measured BPA levels in the urine of the pregnant women at 16 and 26 weeks’ gestation, as well as after delivery. Nearly all the women had detectable BPA in their urine at some point during pregnancy.

At six months, the odds of wheezing are twice as high for children with mothers who had higher BPA than those who had mothers with lower BPA levels, the study showed.

Researchers also found that high BPA levels detected in women at 16 weeks’ gestation were associated with wheeze in their offspring, but high levels at 26 weeks’ gestation and birth were not, a possible indication that timing of BPA exposure in pregnancy may be more significant than the level of exposure.

“This suggests that there are periods of time during pregnancy when the fetus is more vulnerable,” Spanier said in the release. “Exposure during early pregnancy may be worse than exposure in later pregnancy.”

Until more information is available, Dr. Spanier recommended, women of child-bearing age should consider avoiding products made with BPA.

The researchers reported their findings at the Pediatric Academic Societies’ annual meeting in Denver on May 1. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences supported this project.

April 20, 2011

How to Cut our Exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA) in Kitchen?

Bisphenol A, commonly known as BPA, is a chemical used to make hard plastic containers and the lining of metal food and beverage cans. Some scientific studies have linked the hormone-disrupting chemical to reproductive abnormalities and a heightened risk of breast and prostate cancers, diabetes, heart disease and other serious health problems.

However, plastic containers and canned foods can be found in most kitchens because they are convenient and affordable. But there is growing evidence that our use of packaged food comes at a cost.

BPA is so ubiquitous – found even on cash register receipts – that more than 90 percent of Americans have traces of it in their urine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While scientists continue to study the health effects of BPA and debate what is a safe level to intake, there are steps we can take to cut our exposure to the chemical in our kitchens by opting for safe alternatives.

Experts say BPA is most likely to leach from metal and plastic containers into acidic, salty or fatty foods. BPA levels also rise in food when it comes in contact with plastic containers that are heated, particularly in the microwave. So please not to microwave in plastic, and perhaps the next step is to get rid of plastics, and switching to glass containers.

As reported in The Chronicle on March 30 (, a recent study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that it is possible to significantly reduce exposure to BPA and other synthetic chemicals by limiting packaged foods from our diets and storing food in glass or stainless steel containers.

The study acknowledges that while it’s not practical to avoid food packaging altogether, it’s best to choose fresh or frozen instead of canned food as much as possible.

Food preparation avoided contact with plastic utensils and non-stick-coated cookware, and foods were stored in glass containers with BPA-free plastic lids.

BPA is also found in the epoxy resins used to line metal food cans. In Japan, most major manufacturers voluntarily changed their can linings in 1997 to cut or eliminate the use of BPA in response to concerns about health effects.

“If a plastic container is hard and clear and doesn’t say ‘BPA-free,’ assume it’s made with BPA and don’t buy it,” suggests vom Saal, who uses only plastics marked on the bottom with recycling codes 2 and 5.

* More ways to reduce BPA exposure:

- Get rid of scratched plastic containers, which may harbor bacteria, and if made with BPA, lead to greater release of the chemical.

- Do not put very hot or boiling liquid that you intend to consume in plastic containers. BPA levels rise in food when containers or products made with the chemical are heated and come in contact with the food.

- Use stainless steel water bottles rather than hard plastic, but avoid metal bottles lined with a plastic coating and the type of multi-gallon polycarbonate water coolers typically found in offices.

- Eat at home as much as possible so you know how your food is prepared and stored. Higher BPA and DEHP levels are associated with restaurant meals. When you do eat out, choose restaurants that use fresh ingredients.

Last, please remember that “anything you can do to reduce the amount of BPA in your body will lower your risk of disease.”

March 29, 2011

For Our Health Sake, Use Less Plastic for Food Packaging

Recently, researchers at Texas A&M University say they may have found a more eco-friendly plastic to keep packaged foods fresh longer, and scientists at Texas A&M University also have developed a material to keep packaged foods airtight, while using less plastic.

At a meeting of the American Chemical Society this weekend in Anaheim, Calif., scientists presented “nano-bricks,” a product developed from the same material used to make bricks that they say will make plastic food packaging virtually airtight. Nano-bricks are composed of only 30 percent plastic polymers mixed with a natural clay material, making it more environmentally responsible than other types of plastics used to seal packaged food.

Plastic food packaging is often coated with another material to block oxygen from entering the package and spoiling the food inside. Some packaging has a layer of silicon oxide, a material similar to sand. Others products, like a bag of potato chips, use metalized plastics, plastics with a thin coating of metal or foil.

But some plastics can crack or break during transport, while metalized plastics cannot be microwaved and is not transparent, allowing shoppers to see the food inside. Nano-bricks solve these problems, its developers say, while using a material that is better for the environment.

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