Tag Archives: damage
TUESDAY May 14, 2013 — Inhaling ultrafine particles from so-called “nanomaterials” — which are used in a growing number of household and commercial products, including sunscreens, ink in copy machines and lightweight sporting equipment — can cause lung inflammation and damage, a team of U.S. scientists says.
The findings of the study — which looked at the two most common types of engineered nanomaterials — are important because of the large quantities of nanomaterials being used in industry, electronics and medicine, the researchers said.
Nanomaterials are used to make product stronger and more flexible.
Earlier studies had found that breathing nanomaterials could harm the lungs, but this study is believed to be the first in which different laboratories across the country produced similar results regarding the risk.
The findings should help in creating policy for the safe development of nanotechnology, according to the authors of the study, which was published online recently in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
“This research provides further confirmation that nanomaterials have the potential to cause inflammation and injury to the lungs,” Kent Pinkerton, a study senior author and the director of the Center for Health and the Environment at the University of California, Davis, said in a university news release. “Although small amounts of these materials in the lungs do not appear to produce injury, we still must remain vigilant in using care in the diverse applications of these materials in consumer products and foods.”
The American Lung Association explains how to protect your lungs.
Posted: May 2013
TUESDAY Jan. 22, 2013 — Until now, scientists could only identify a sign of brain damage — called tau protein tangles — during an autopsy. Considered a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, tau tangles also occur in a devastating brain condition caused by head trauma.
In a new study, researchers describe how they pinpointed signs of tau in five former National Football League players who are still alive. The issue of sports-related concussions and brain injuries — particularly among football players — has generated headlines recently, especially after star NFL linebacker Junior Seau died by suicide last year.
The hope is that early identification of signs of brain injury in athletes would enable doctors to alert players to the possibility of devastating long-term damage before it occurs.
For the new study, researchers gave the ex-players a radioactive chemical that binds to tau tangles in the brain so that affected areas light up on PET scan imaging tests.
“All the players had high signals in the brain in areas that other studies of autopsy in chronic traumatic encephalopathy patients have found high concentrations of tau,” said lead study author Dr. Gary Small, a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Seau, who died by suicide last May at age 43, was found to have tau tangles in his brain during an autopsy, according to a Jan. 10 statement from the U.S. National Institutes of Health. The NIH concluded that he had suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a condition associated with multiple hits to the head and concussions.
The new UCLA study appears online Jan. 22 in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. Because of the study’s small size and design, it’s far from definitive and will have to be verified by more extensive research, Small noted.
The study participants, who included a linebacker, a quarterback, a guard, a center and a defensive lineman, were “what we call a convenience sample,” Small said. “We reached out to contact the [NFL] players’ association and other groups to find individuals who had cognitive [thinking] or mood symptoms.” All the players had suffered at least one concussion and had symptoms including depression, dementia and problems with memory and thinking ability.
One of the five players, who is in his 60s, just has signs of normal aging, Small said.
All the study participants received an intravenous injection of a radioactive chemical called FDDNP, which binds to tau protein in the brain. UCLA holds a patent on FDDNP.
“It’s a very small chemical that has a radioactive label attached to it and the PET scanner acts as Geiger counter and measures its radioactivity,” Small explained.
Dr. Howard Derman, medical director of the Methodist Concussion Center/Nantz National Alzheimer’s Center in Houston, who was not involved in the study, discussed the implications of the new research.
At present, he said, “In terms of what we can do for patients, it’s not much. We can use more sophisticated imaging. We use PET scanning all the time, but PET scanning with an isotope that binds to brain plaque and tangles — it’s the isotope that adds a new dimension.”
Derman said that if proven to work by further research, the method “might be useful to give athletes guidance. If you took an athlete and followed him sequentially after each concussion and then [the brain area] lights up, you might want to say it’s time” to think about retiring.
“I’m more than cautiously optimistic — but it’s [only] five players,” Derman said.
Study author Small said that “there’s a lot of overlap between Alzheimer’s disease, brain aging and traumatic brain injury. We know NFL players have a fourfold greater likelihood of dying from Alzheimer’s disease than people in the general population.”
He said the ability to detect tau in living players “offers us the hope that we can identify individuals before there’s a lot of symptoms and try to protect the healthy brain rather than try to repair damage once it’s done.”
However, with little effective treatment available to treat Alzheimer’s, the value of having that early knowledge might be unclear.
“While we’re waiting for science to catch up, we’ve done a lot of research in the area of healthy lifestyles to protect the brain — physical and aerobic conditioning, proper diet, stress management,” Small said. “For people with memory problems, learning ways to compensate for their cognitive decline is very important.”
Visit the Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy to learn more about chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
Posted: January 2013
WEDNESDAY Nov. 21, 2012 — Full body X-ray scanners and luggage X-rays may damage some insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors, both used by many people with diabetes to manage their conditions.
It’s likely that every day, large numbers of travelers expose these diabetes care devices to X-rays while going through airport security “and some may unknowingly experience mild [or worse] malfunctioning as a result,” wrote the authors of a recent editorial in the journal Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics.
They recommend carrying a letter that details all of the medical supplies someone with diabetes needs to carry on board with them. They also recommend that if someone wears an insulin pump or continuous glucose monitors, the letter specifically state that these devices shouldn’t be subjected to X-rays, either from a full body scanner or the X-ray machine that scans carry-on luggage. Instead, these devices should be hand-checked, according to editorial co-authors Andrew Cornish and Dr. H. Peter Chase, from the University of Colorado Denver.
Dr. Tracy Breen, director of diabetes care for North Shore-LIJ Health System in New Hyde Park, N.Y., agreed with this advice.
“I always recommend that people living with diabetes travel with a letter from their doctor stating their diagnosis of diabetes, what their travel needs are and what supplies they are traveling with,” Breen said. “Since we really don’t know what can happen to an insulin pump or [continuous glucose monitoring] device when it is passed through an imaging device, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.”
Breen added, “It’s also important for people and their doctors to be well versed in Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) guidelines and to consider incorporating those guidelines into the text of their travel letter.”
The editorial described the experience of a 16-year-old patient who was told to wear her insulin pump through a full-body scanner by the TSA. As a result of the X-ray exposure, the pump’s manufacturer advised the young lady to disconnect the pump, because they couldn’t be sure whether or not damage had occurred.
Any pump that uses what’s known as direct current motor technology is at risk from X-ray exposure, according to the editorial. Insulin pumps made by Medtronic, Animas and Tandem Diabetes Care use direct current motor technology.
“Like the rest of the insulin pump industry, we recommend the t:slim pump be removed when entering a full body scanner,” said Susan Morrison, director of corporate investor relations at Tandem in San Diego. Morrison said that Tandem also recommends that the t:slim pump not be exposed to luggage X-ray machines.
Currently, the only FDA-approved insulin pump that doesn’t use direct current motor technology is the OmniPod by Insulet. That pump uses shape-memory alloy wire technology, which according to the company, isn’t affected by X-ray exposure. Insulet’s user manual says that both the pods, which hold insulin and are attached to the body, and the wireless device that controls the insulin delivery can be X-rayed.
Medtronic also cautions against allowing their continuous glucose monitoring device to go through any type of X-ray scanning.
None of the pump companies expressed concerns about passing these devices through the metal detectors in the airport.
The editorial noted that on an airplane, the increased pressure in the cabin can cause some insulin pumps to deliver slightly more insulin. In general, this isn’t a significant concern for teens or adults because the potential amount of extra insulin isn’t large enough to make a big difference in blood sugar levels.
But, in young children who use very small amounts of insulin, the extra insulin could cause a drop in blood sugar levels. Parents who are aware of this potential can monitor their children more carefully while flying to avoid unexpectedly low blood sugar levels.
In addition, the sensitivity of continuous glucose monitors may be affected by changes in air cabin pressure, with extra pressure possibly causing lower readings.
The authors of the editorial said that more research is needed to determine exactly how much insulin delivery and continuous glucose monitor readings are affected by air cabin pressure.
Read more about traveling with diabetes from the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.
Posted: November 2012