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What's the buzz.....

Cheap jewellery may contain toxic metals

Experts have detected alarming levels of harmful chemicals in the composition of low-priced jewellery items targeted at youngsters, which may have dangerous health implications.

Non-profit environmental safety organisation, The Ecology Center, found lead, cadmium, chromium, mercury and arsenic among other highly toxic chemicals, in over half the 99 items taken from branches of Claire’s, Forever 21 and H’n’M and other retailers across the United States.

The health issues linked to these substances in past tests on animals and humans comprise acute allergies, birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity and cancer.  Using X-ray fluorescence, Jeffrey Weidenhamer, Ph.D, Professor of Chemistry at Ashland University, a leading national researcher on metals in jewellery and colleagues, identified which metals were present in the items and found consistently high levels of one or more toxic chemical.

Of the 99 pieces tested, 25 per cent contained levels of lead over 300 parts per million which exceeds the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s limit of lead permitted in the manufacturing of children’s products, the Daily Mail reported.

“It ends up in the jewellery because it’s cheap, it’s easy to melt, it makes nice heavy pieces of jewellery and in fact we’ve found in a lot of the pieces we’ve tested that are 95 per cent lead by weight, that the alloy composition is almost identical to what you’d find in lead acid car batteries,” Dr Weidenhamer told CBS.  Additionally, ten per cent of the items contained known carcinogen cadmium, most likely because there have been no restrictions on its use.

Soy-based supplement cuts metabolic syndrome risk

Scientists have found that a 12-week treatment of the fermented soy germ-based nutritional supplement containing S-equol significantly lowered hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), LDL cholesterol and improved vascular stiffness, all factors that occur as part of metabolic syndrome.

S-equol [7-hydroxy-3-(4’-hydroxyphenyl)-chroman] is a compound resulting -- when certain bacteria are present in the digestive tract -- from the natural metabolism, or conversion, of daidzein, an isoflavone found in whole soybeans.

Not everyone can produce S-equol after soy consumption, as the production depends on the types of bacteria present in the large intestine and may be influenced by the amount of soy consumed.

“This study is the first to provide evidence that a daily supplement of soy-based S-equol favourably change metabolic syndrome risk factors, particularly in women. Because not all individuals have the ability to produce S-equol naturally after eating soy, the study results are very interesting and warrant examination in future studies,” said Belinda H. Jenks, Ph.D., co-author of the study and director of Scientific Affairs and Nutrition Education at Pharmavite LLC, an U.S. subsidiary of Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co, Ltd, which sponsored the study.

Acid in dairy products offers therapy for bowel disease

Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a naturally occurring acid found in meat and dairy products, could help treat Crohn’s disease, a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), researchers say.

The Nutritional Immunology and Molecular Medicine Laboratory (NIMML) research team at Virginia Tech has found that Crohn’s patients who took supplementary CLA showed noticeable improvement.

CLA is known for its anti-cancer and immune modulatory properties.
The researchers collaborated with the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepathology at University of North Carolina School of Medicine and the Wake Forest Medical Center.

“In our recent open label study of CLA as a supplement in study subjects with mild to moderate CD there was a marked improvement in disease activity and quality of life in 50 percent of the subjects.  CLA was well tolerated by all of the study subjects. These findings are very encouraging and will need to be verified in a randomised controlled trial,” said Professor Kim L. Isaacs, a Professor of Gastroenterology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The risk of developing colorectal cancer increases by about one percent yearly in IBD patients. Currently, there is no cure for Crohn’s disease

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