What's the Buzz

What's the Buzz

Plastic products for kids are toxic

Studies conducted at the University of Gothenburg has found that many plastic products contain hazardous chemicals that can leach to the surroundings. A third of the tested plastic products released toxic substances, including 5 out of 13 products intended for children, according to the study.

“Considering how common plastic products are, how quickly the production of plastic has increased and the amount of chemicals that humans and the environment are exposed to, it is important to replace the most hazardous substances in plastic products with less hazardous alternatives,” said Delilah Lithner of the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences at the university.

For the findings, Lithner studied the toxicity of 83 randomly selected plastic products and synthetic textiles. The newly purchased products were leached in pure (deionised) water for some days. The acute toxicity of the water was then tested using water fleas (Daphnia magna).

“A third of all the 83 plastic products and synthetic chemicals that were tested released substances that were acutely toxic to the water fleas, despite the leaching being mild. Five out of 13 products that were intended for children were toxic, for example bath toys and buoyancy aids such as inflatable armbands,” said Delilah Lithner.

Chinese herbal paste may help cut exacerbations of COPD

A study conducted in Beijing suggests that a traditional Chinese herbal paste known as Xiao Chuan, or XCP, may help reduce winter exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The paste has been used to treat breathing difficulties in China for more than a thousand years. The researchers enrolled 142 patients and randomised them to receive either XCP or a placebo paste. Both pastes were applied on the same back points four times during the eight-week period of July and August.

Patients were monitored for exacerbations from November through February. Adverse events were evaluated using the Chinese Herb Skin Stimulation Classification. The incidence of adverse events was two per cent in treatment group, and all patients who experienced an adverse event recovered without intervention after stopping the medication. There were no adverse events in placebo group.

Xiao Chuan paste has been used in China for centuries to aid in breathing disorders, including COPD and asthma. To treat winter exacerbations of COPD and other breathing problems, the paste is applied in the summer on specific acupuncture points on the back.

Common anti-inflammatory drug kills liver cancer cells

Ehe anti-inflammatory drug celecoxib, brand name Celebrex, triggers liver cancer cell death by reacting with a protein in a way that makes those cells commit suicide. Researchers also found that the combination of celecoxib with each of two chemotherapy drugs killed more liver cancer cells in culture. “Each chemotherapy drug alone will reduce the growth of cancer cells, but when each single drug is combined with Celebrex, a greater growth suppression effect was observed,” said Jiayuh Lin, Ohio State University.

Celecoxib has this effect by acting on STAT3, a gene inside liver cancer cells that, when activated, allows those cancer cells to resist the effects of chemotherapy drugs. The researchers determined that the celecoxib molecule binds to STAT3 on so-called ‘hot spots’, effectively blocking its ability to function. And when STAT3 is inhibited, cellular survival pathways are blocked that cause the cancer cell to chop itself up and die.