Wednesday, June 30, 2010

McNuggets: Still "McFrankenstein"

Here's an interesting note that I found on one of the CNN blogs . . . I hadn't seen this anywhere else. Congrats to CNN for doing the research here.

They found that there is a great difference in McNuggets sold in McDonalds in the UK versus what is sold in the States. Incredibly enough, there are preservatives and chemicals in the USA products, but not in the UK products. How is it that we rate so highly, McDonalds management?

American McNuggets (190 calories, 12 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat for 4 pieces) contain the chemical preservative tBHQ, tertiary butylhydroquinone, a petroleum-based product. They also contain dimethylpolysiloxane, “an anti-foaming agent” also used in Silly Putty.

By contrast, British McNuggets (170 calories, 9 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat for 4 pieces) lists neither chemical among its ingredients.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

LCD Monitors and TV's Being Recycled to Aid Human Health

The fastest growing waste in the world could soon be helping to combat hospital infections, according to scientists at the University of York in the UK.

Researchers at the University's Department of Chemistry have discovered a way of transforming the chemical compound polyvinyl-alcohol (PVA), a key element of monitors and TV's with liquid crystal display (LCD) technology, into an anti-microbial substance that destroys infections such as Escherichia coli and some strains of Staphylococcus aureus.

The York research team had earlier found a method of recovering PVA from television screens and transforming it into a substance which, due to its compatibility with the human body, could be suitable for use in tissue scaffolds that help parts of the body regenerate. It could also be used in pills and dressings that are designed to deliver drugs to particular parts of the body. These latest developments were showcased by Dr Andrew Hunt at the 14th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference in Washington DC on 21 June.

Dr Hunt, of the York Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence, said: "The influence of LCDs on modern society is dramatic - it is estimated that 2.5 billion LCDs are approaching the end of their life, and they are the fastest growing waste in the European Union. But we can add significant value to this waste. By heating then cooling the PVA and then dehydrating it with ethanol we can produce a high surface area mesoporous material that has great potential for use in biomedicine."

This group at York has found that they can enhance the material's anti-microbial properties by the addition of silver nanoparticles. The result is that it can destroy bacterial infections such as E.coli. Potentially, it could be used in hospital cleaning products to help to reduce infections.

The project's next steps will be to test the PVA-based substance against commercial compounds to determine relative effectiveness, and to secure approval from regulatory agencies regarding the suitability of silver nanoparticles for human health applications.


Monday, June 28, 2010

Pigeon's DO Carry Nasty Bacteria

The strange thing about pigeons is that some people love them, while others consider them to be nothing more than "flying rats." Recent research has shown that regardless of how you feel about feeding those pigeons in the park, they do carry with them a variety of very nasty bugs.

Sampling of pigeons captured on the streets of Madrid has revealed the bacterial pathogens they carry. Researchers writing in BioMed Central’s open access journal Acta Vetinaria Scandinavica found two bugs that were highly prevalent in the bird population, Chlamydophila psittaci and Campylobacter jejuni, both of which cause illness in humans.

Fernando Esperón from the Animal Health Research Center, Madrid, Spain, worked with a team of researchers to analyze blood and enema samples taken from 118 pigeons caught using gun-propelled nets. He said, “The present study demonstrates the extremely high prevalence of two zoonotic pathogens in feral pigeons. At the same time, infection with these pathogens did not appear to be associated with any harmful clinical signs in the birds themselves. This leads to the hypothesis that pigeons act as asymptomatic reservoirs of Chlamydophila psittaci and Campylobacter jejuni. These birds may therefore pose a public health risk to the human population."

Chlamydophila psittaci was found in 52.6% of the pigeons captured, while Campylobacter jejuni was present in 69.1%. Although there have been few reports of disease transmission between pigeons and humans, it can occur by aerosols, direct contact or indirect contact through food and water contamination. According to Esperón, “Thermophilic Campylobacter species are considered the primary pathogens responsible for acute diarrhea in the world. In fact, in many countries such as England and Wales, Canada, Australia and New Zealand Campylobacter jejuni infection causes more cases of acute diarrhea than infection by Salmonella species."

Next time you are thinking about pulling out a handful of seeds or a loaf of old bread for those birds, think about the downstream effect of the pigeon's presence in our community and the dangerous bugs they bring with them.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Resveratrol Reduces Weight Gain in Primates

As anyone who reads the health blogs and news reports knows, resveratrol is a natural substance that is widely studied for its "anti-aging" properties among other things. Recently, a French research team has shown that there may be some other benefits to this compound. At least, research in the primate lemurs has shown that scientists may soon have a clearer understanding of the factors that govern obesity in humans.

Work by a team in the "Mécanismes adaptatifs : des organismes aux communautés" Laboratory (CNRS/Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle) has revealed that this compound reduces weight gain in lemurs. Such findings provide new information regarding the effects of resveratrol on energy metabolism and the control of body mass in primates. This study is published on 22 June 2010 in BMC Physiology.

Resveratrol is a plant compound that is present in certain fruits, such as grape skins, blackberries and peanuts, etc. This compound has been widely studied, notably regarding its effects on aging, as it has demonstrated that it can increase longevity in numerous animal models. This natural substance also improves the health and survival of mice fed a hyperlipidic diet, but until now, no studies had been performed on primates in this field.

The team led by Dr. Fabienne Aujard has studied the effects of resveratrol on the metabolism of grey mouse lemurs (Microcebus murinus). With a lifespan of 8 to 10 years, this small primate is a lemur, which is an animal model for studies on aging. It displays very pronounced seasonal physiological rhythms: its metabolism and body weight fluctuate on a seasonal basis. The researchers added resveratrol to the feed of the lemurs while regularly measuring their body temperature, weight gain and resting metabolic rate. After four weeks, they observed an immediate effect: the animals had reduced their food intake by 13% and increased their resting metabolic rate (which represents a proportion of their energy expenditure) by 29%.

The ingestion of resveratrol thus enabled the lemurs to considerably reduce their weight gain at a time of the year when they have a natural tendency to increase their body mass so as to store as much energy as possible before the mating season. In addition, modifications to the body temperature of treated animals were observed, suggesting that resveratrol might also modify the energy strategies developed by this primate. This effect, which is not observed in rodents, may thus be specific to primates. Furthermore, the short-term findings of this study were recently confirmed by the initial results of Fabienne Aujard's team as part of a study of the long-term effects of resveratrol on the delayed appearance of age-related deficits and an increase in the longevity of grey mouse lemurs.

These findings represent an important step towards the development of treatments for human obesity, which results from a prolonged imbalance between energy intake and expenditure.