PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) have likely contaminated all major water supplies in the US. There are close to 5000 PFAS chemicals dispersed throughout the environment. Studies like these look at just a few of them.
We observed an increase in ectopic tumor volume with PFOS exposure or an HFD [High-Fat Diet] alone; however, the fastest rate of growth was observed in mice exposed to PFOS and fed an HFD, indicating a synergistic response:
Our findings enhance understanding of how PFAS synergize with high-fat diets to contribute to prostate cancer development and establish an important basis to mitigate PFAS exposure.
Press release: PFAS exposure, high-fat diet drive prostate cells’ metabolism into pro-cancer state, Science Daily, 11 November 2021
Exposure to PFAS — a class of synthetic chemicals utilized in food wrappers, nonstick cookware and other products — reprograms the metabolism of benign and malignant human prostate cells to a more energy efficient state that enables the cells to proliferate at three times the rate of nonexposed cells, a new study in mice found.
However, consuming a high-fat diet significantly accelerated development of tumors in the PFAS-exposed mice.
The scientists injected an aggressive form of malignant human prostate cells into the flanks of male mice that were fed either a high-fat diet intended to mimic the typical Western diet or a control diet. Some of the mice also received oral doses of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), one of the most common forms of PFAS that has been associated with various cancers.
In cell culture, the scientists exposed benign prostate cells and a derivative line of aggressive malignant cells to PFOS and found that the malignant cells replicated at triple the rate of the cells in the control group.
When the researchers exposed the benign and malignant cells to another form of PFAS, perfluorobutane sulfonic acid, the malignant cells’ viability was five times greater than the cells in the control group.
Studies have associated PFBS exposure — which can occur through polluted air or polluted drinking water — with diseases of the thyroid and other organs.
Structurally, chemicals in the PFAS family resemble free fatty acids and bind to the same sites on serum proteins, Madak-Erdogan said.
An aside, it also says this:
Compelling evidence from human prostate cell lines and transgenic murine prostate cancer models indicates that a high-fat diet (HFD) contributes to prostate cancer progression by shifting the prostate metabolome to a pro-cancerous state.
There really is no way to avoid PFAS. They are in most people’s municipal tap water. They are in private wells and bottled spring water. They are in the air. They are on the clothes we wear, in the flesh of the animals we eat, in packaged food, and on. According to the CDC, all of us have PFAS in our bodies. The amount grows by the day because our exposure grows, and because, as “forever chemicals” they don’t break down. They accumulate.
I guess we could ring up chemical companies and ask them to stop producing PFAS and help with environmental clean-up? The EPA has been lax there.
Maybe also eat a low-fat diet? Oh, but high-fat keto is all the rage right now.
Microplastics Cause Damage To Human Cells, Study Shows, The Guardian, 8 December 2021
Microplastics cause damage to human cells in the laboratory at the levels known to be eaten by people via their food, a study has found.
The harm included cell death and allergic reactions and the research is the first to show this happens at levels relevant to human exposure.
Microplastics pollution has contaminated the entire planet, from the summit of Mount Everest to the deepest oceans.
“Harmful effects on cells are in many cases the initiating event for health effects,” said Evangelos Danopoulos, of Hull York Medical School, UK, and who led the research published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials.* “We should be concerned. Right now, there isn’t really a way to protect ourselves.”
“Once the plastic is in the environment, we can’t really get it out.”
In October, scientists showed that babies fed formula milk in plastic bottles were swallowing millions of particles a day.
* A Rapid Review And Meta-regression Analyses Of The Toxicological Impacts Of Microplastic Exposure In Human Cells, Journal of Hazardous Materials, Online 24 November 2021
Finding ways to degrade plastic (bacteria, enzymes, light) is not the answer. It’s an out for plastic manufacturers. It lets them continue production. The answer is to stop plastic production.
I’m A Climate Scientist. “Don’t Look Up” Captures The Madness I See Every Day
A film about a comet hurtling towards Earth and no one is doing anything about it? Sounds exactly like the climate crisis.
The movie Don’t Look Up is satire. But speaking as a climate scientist doing everything I can to wake people up and avoid planetary destruction, it’s also the most accurate film about society’s terrifying non-response to climate breakdown I’ve seen.
The film, from director Adam McKay and writer David Sirota, tells the story of astronomy grad student Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) and her PhD adviser, Dr Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio), who discover a comet – a “planet killer” – that will impact the Earth in just over six months. The certainty of impact is 99.7%, as certain as just about anything in science.
The scientists are essentially alone with this knowledge, ignored and gaslighted by society. The panic and desperation they feel mirror the panic and desperation that many climate scientists feel. In one scene, Mindy hyperventilates in a bathroom; in another, Dibiasky, on national TV, screams “Are we not being clear? We’re all 100% for sure gonna fucking die!” I can relate. This is what it feels like to be a climate scientist today.
The two astronomers are given a 20-minute audience with the president (Meryl Streep), who is glad to hear that impact isn’t technically 100% certain. Weighing election strategy above the fate of the planet, she decides to “sit tight and assess”. Desperate, the scientists then go on a national morning show, but the TV hosts make light of their warning (which is also overshadowed by a celebrity breakup story).
By now, the imminent collision with comet Dibiasky is confirmed by scientists around the world. After political winds shift, the president initiates a mission to divert the comet, but changes her mind at the last moment when urged to do so by a billionaire donor (Mark Rylance) with his own plan to guide it to a safe landing, using unproven technology, in order to claim its precious metals. A sports magazine’s cover asks, “The end is near. Will there be a Super Bowl?”
But this isn’t a film about how humanity would respond to a planet-killing comet; it’s a film about how humanity is responding to planet-killing climate breakdown. We live in a society in which, despite extraordinarily clear, present, and worsening climate danger, more than half of Republican members of Congress still say climate change is a hoax and many more wish to block action, and in which the official Democratic party platform still enshrines massive subsidies to the fossil fuel industry; in which the current president ran on a promise that “nothing will fundamentally change”, and the speaker of the House dismissed even a modest climate plan as “the green dream or whatever”; in which the largest delegation to Cop26 was the fossil fuel industry, and the White House sold drilling rights to a huge tract of the Gulf of Mexico after the summit; in which world leaders say that climate is an “existential threat to humanity” while simultaneously expanding fossil fuel production; in which major newspapers still run fossil fuel ads, and climate news is routinely overshadowed by sports; in which entrepreneurs push incredibly risky tech solutions and billionaires sell the absurdist fantasy that humanity can just move to Mars.
After 15 years of working to raise climate urgency, I’ve concluded that the public in general, and world leaders in particular, underestimate how rapid, serious and permanent climate and ecological breakdown will be if humanity fails to mobilize. There may only be five years left before humanity expends the remaining “carbon budget” to stay under 1.5C of global heating at today’s emissions rates – a level of heating I am not confident will be compatible with civilization as we know it. And there may only be five years before the Amazon rainforest and a large Antarctic ice sheet pass irreversible tipping points.
The Earth system is breaking down now with breathtaking speed. And climate scientists have faced an even more insurmountable public communication task than the astronomers in Don’t Look Up, since climate destruction unfolds over decades – lightning fast as far as the planet is concerned, but glacially slow as far as the news cycle is concerned – and isn’t as immediate and visible as a comet in the sky.
Given all this, dismissing Don’t Look Up as too obvious might say more about the critic than the film. It’s funny and terrifying because it conveys a certain cold truth that climate scientists and others who understand the full depth of the climate emergency are living every day. I hope that this movie, which comically depicts how hard it is to break through prevailing norms, actually helps break through those norms in real life.
I also hope Hollywood is learning how to tell climate stories that matter. Instead of stories that create comforting distance from the grave danger we are in via unrealistic techno fixes for unrealistic disaster scenarios, humanity needs stories that highlight the many absurdities that arise from collectively knowing what’s coming while collectively failing to act.
We also need stories that show humanity responding rationally to the crisis. A lack of technology isn’t what’s blocking action. Instead, humanity needs to confront the fossil fuel industry head on, accept that we need to consume less energy, and switch into full-on emergency mode. The sense of solidarity and relief we’d feel once this happens – if it happens – would be gamechanging for our species. More and better facts will not catalyze this sociocultural tipping point, but more and better stories might.
“Don’t Look Up” Trailer
As expected, the comet hits Earth, causing global disaster and killing everyone on the planet.
After 22,740 years, the people who left Earth before the impact land on a lush alien planet, ending their cryogenic sleep. They exit their spacecraft nude and mostly empty-handed, admiring the habitable world. Orlean is quickly killed and eaten by a native animal as others of its kind attack the humans.
A post-credits scene shows Jason emerging from the rubble and trying to post on social media.
I grew up with hard news. On the television. 6 pm and 10 pm. That’s when you found out what was going on. News has changed. It’s now a 24-hour cycle of some hard news mixed with “infotainment” or “soft news” and plain gossip. And, as I saw in the case of CNN, infomercials.
Infotainment can generally be identified by its entertaining nature. Infotainment may also involve the use of flashy graphics, fast-paced editing, music, sensationalism, and sometimes satire to catch the viewer/readers’ attention.
Difference between hard news and soft news:
Wilbur Schramm was one of the first to describe a dichotomy between types of news in relation to human consumption. He separated news into a delayed reward class (including news of public affairs, economic matters, social problems, science, education and health), which closely resembles hard news, and an immediate reward class (including news of crime/corruption, accidents and disasters, sports, social events, and human interest) which closely resembles infotainment/soft news.
Here is where news hinges on gossip:
An infotainment broadcast may frame accusations of a celebrity or other individual committing a crime as a reality, with no verifiable factual support or evidence of such claims.
What is gossip?
Casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.
Here is an example of hard and soft news mixed. The soft news received top billing.
… A CNN lead story on February 2, 2004 following the exposure of Janet Jackson’s breast on national television. The follow-up story was about a ricin chemical attack on then-U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.
I just checked CNN. Here’s a top story, a headliner, you don’t even have to scroll down:
Yet, there is absolutely nothing on CNN’s front page about the rising tensions between Russia and the US over Ukraine. I did a search on “Putin” and “Russia” and came up empty. Certainly nothing about PFAS and microplastics. I don’t know where to get my news anymore.
If you’re looking for a diet for the new year, low-fat looks like a good choice. This study backs it up:
Obesity Energetics: Body Weight Regulation And The Effects Of Diet Composition, Gastroenterology, February 2017
Weight changes are accompanied by imbalances between calorie intake and expenditure. This fact is often misinterpreted to suggest that obesity is caused by gluttony and sloth and can be treated by simply advising people to eat less and move more. Rather various components of energy balance are dynamically interrelated and weight loss is resisted by counterbalancing physiological processes.
While low-carbohydrate diets have been suggested to partially subvert these processes by increasing energy expenditure and promoting fat loss, our meta-analysis of 32 controlled feeding studies with isocaloric substitution of carbohydrate for fat found that both energy expenditure (26 kcal/d; P <.0001) and fat loss (16 g/d; P <.0001) were greater with lower fat diets.
A low-fat diet beats a low-carb diet. That’s what it says.
Here are some examples. They all ate a low-fat, starch-based diet. They lost weight and regained health. Many more at Star McDougallers.
I know this sounds like an advertisement for McDougall. I don’t mean it to be. I’m not getting any compensation for it. I just think that his starch-based take makes sense. It’s low-fat, plant-based, and doesn’t require any special, expensive foods. You don’t have to read a book or take a class. I mean, you could eat oatmeal, potatoes, pasta, and vegetables and do his diet.
Traditionally it is sung to bid farewell to the old year at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve.
– Auld Lang Syne
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!
and surely I’ll buy mine!
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.
And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give me a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.
Happy New Year, everyone!
Tomorrow is New Years Eve. I think I’ll post about alcohol with the risk of being cancelled. Oh well.
Alcohol Metabolism, National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
All alcoholic drinks contain ethanol. Ethanol is toxic to the body, so the liver works very hard and very quickly to metabolize it or break it down. One chemical that is produced during breakdown is acetaldehyde:
Alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH} metabolizes alcohol to acetaldehyde, a highly toxic substance and known carcinogen.
Although acetaldehyde is short lived, usually existing in the body only for a brief time before it is further broken down into acetate, it has the potential to cause significant damage. This is particularly evident in the liver, where the bulk of alcohol metabolism takes place (4). Some alcohol metabolism also occurs in other tissues, including the pancreas (3) and the brain, causing damage to cells and tissues (1). Additionally, small amounts of alcohol are metabolized to acetaldehyde in the gastrointestinal tract, exposing these tissues to acetaldehyde’s damaging effects (5).
In addition to its toxic effects, some researchers believe that acetaldehyde may be responsible for some of the behavioral and physiological effects previously attributed to alcohol (6). For example, when acetaldehyde is administered to lab animals, it leads to incoordination, memory impairment, and sleepiness, effects often associated with alcohol (7).
Acetaldehyde isn’t the only carcinogen:
Acetaldehyde is not the only carcinogenic byproduct of alcohol metabolism. When alcohol is metabolized by CYP2E1, highly reactive, oxygen-containing molecules—or reactive oxygen species (ROS)—are produced. ROS can damage proteins and DNA or interact with other substances to create carcinogenic compounds (22).
Small amounts of alcohol also are removed by interacting with fatty acids to form compounds called fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEEs). These compounds have been shown to contribute to damage to the liver and pancreas (3).
It’s not the occasional drink, it’s the consistent, chronic, flood of ethanol that causes problems – like breast cancer and stomach cancer and fatty liver and dementia. Really, it’s the people who promote alcohol use who should be cancelled. But we’re living in a Bizarro World right now.
Thanks to Virginia for the impetus for this post. However, I take full responsibility.