Mount Sinai study is first to document association that had been hypothesized
Newswise — Mount Sinai researchers have discovered a link between certain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and an increased risk for thyroid cancer, according to a study published in eBioMedicine today.
PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals,” are a large, complex group of synthetic chemicals that can migrate into the soil, water, and air. Due to their strong carbon-fluorine bond, these chemicals do not degrade easily in the environment. Forever chemicals been used in consumer products around the world since the 1940s, including nonstick cookware, water-repellent clothing, stain-resistant fabrics, and other products that resist grease, water, and oil.
Multiple national and international institutions, including the European Parliament and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), have declared PFAS exposure a health crisis. This study supports the actions needed to regulate and remove these chemicals from potential exposure routes. Although PFAS exposure has been identified as a potential contributor to recent increases in thyroid cancer, limited studies have investigated the association between PFAS exposure and thyroid cancer in human populations.
“With the substantial increase of thyroid cancer worldwide over recent decades, we wanted to dive into the potential environmental factors that could be the cause for this rise. This led us to the finding that PFAS, ‘forever chemicals,’ may at least partially explain the rise of thyroid cancer and are an area we should continue to study further,” said co-corresponding author Maaike van Gerwen, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor and Director of Research for the Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “Thyroid cancer risk from PFAS exposure is a global concern given the prevalence of PFAS exposure in our world. This study provides critical evidence to support large-scale studies further exploring the effect of PFAS exposure on the thyroid gland.”
The researchers investigated associations between plasma PFAS levels and thyroid cancer diagnosis using BioMe, a medical record-linked biobank at Icahn Mount Sinai. They studied 88 thyroid cancer patients with plasma samples collected either at or before cancer diagnosis and 88 non-cancer controls—people who did not develop any form of cancer—who matched on sex, race/ethnicity, age (within five years), body mass index, smoking status, and the year of sample collection. The researchers measured levels of eight PFAS in blood samples from the BioMe participants using untargeted metabolomics. The levels of individual PFAS were compared between the group of participants who developed thyroid cancer and the group of healthy participants, using different statistical models to estimate accuracy.
The results showed that exposure to perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (n-PFOS, a group of chemicals under the PFAS umbrella) led to a 56 percent increased risk of thyroid cancer diagnosis. Additionally, the researchers conducted the analysis again in a subgroup of 31 patients who had at least a year between their enrollment in BioMe and their diagnosis of thyroid cancer, to take into consideration the time lag between exposure to PFAS chemicals and developing a disease. From this second analysis, there was also a positive association between the exposure of n-PFOS and the risk of thyroid cancer, as well as a positive association with a few additional PFAS chemicals, including branched perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, perfluorononanoic acid, perfluorooctylphosphonic acid, and linear perfluorohexanesulfonic acid.
“The results of this study provide further confirmation for the PFAS health crisis and underline the need to reduce, and hopefully one day eliminate, PFAS exposure,” said co-corresponding author Lauren Petrick, PhD, Associate Professor of Environmental Medicine and Public Health, Icahn Mount Sinai. “Today, it’s nearly impossible to avoid PFAS in our daily activities. We hope these findings bring awareness of the severity of these forever chemicals. Everyone should discuss their PFAS exposure with their treating physician to determine their risk and get screened if appropriate. In addition, we need continued industry changes to eliminate PFAS altogether.”
This study was funded with pilot funding through the Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health and the Institute for Exposomic Research’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences-funded Center on Health and Environment Across the LifeSpan (HEALS), which supports research on environmental exposures, and their effects on health across the life course.
About the Mount Sinai Health System
Mount Sinai Health System is one of the largest academic medical systems in the New York metro area, with more than 43,000 employees working across eight hospitals, more than 400 outpatient practices, more than 300 labs, a school of nursing, and a leading school of medicine and graduate education. Mount Sinai advances health for all people, everywhere, by taking on the most complex health care challenges of our time—discovering and applying new scientific learning and knowledge; developing safer, more effective treatments; educating the next generation of medical leaders and innovators; and supporting local communities by delivering high-quality care to all who need it.
Through the integration of its hospitals, labs, and schools, Mount Sinai offers comprehensive health care solutions from birth through geriatrics, leveraging innovative approaches such as artificial intelligence and informatics while keeping patients’ medical and emotional needs at the center of all treatment. The Health System includes approximately 7,400 primary and specialty care physicians; 13 joint-venture outpatient surgery centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and more than 30 affiliated community health centers. Hospitals within the System are consistently ranked by Newsweek’s® “The World’s Best Smart Hospitals” and by U.S. News & World Report’s® “Best Hospitals” and “Best Children’s Hospitals.” The Mount Sinai Hospital is on the U.S. News & World Report’s® “Best Hospitals” Honor Roll for 2023-2024.
Source: Mount Sinai Health System
Study finds risk factors for severe COVID-19 cases in children
UT Southwestern researchers show living in the Southern U.S., having preexisting conditions linked to more serious illness
Newswise — DALLAS – Nov. 21, 2023 – Children who had preexisting health problems or who lived in the Southern United States had a higher risk for severe health outcomes from acute COVID-19 infections, according to researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center. The results, reported in the journal Hospital Pediatrics that is published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, also showed the importance of vaccinations in reducing the severity of illness for those who became infected.
“While receiving the COVID-19 vaccines did not mean that our little patients would not get sick from the virus, vaccines did protect them from more severe outcomes such as death and intensive care admissions. Protecting your children by immunizing them is a good thing, especially if your child has a preexisting condition, such as heart disease or asthma,” said one of the study’s authors, Christoph Lehmann, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics and in the Lyda Hill Department of Bioinformatics, Director of the Clinical Informatics Center, and a member of the Peter O’Donnell Jr. School of Public Health at UT Southwestern.
The national study analyzed records from 165,437 children age 18 and younger who tested positive for COVID-19 between January 2020 and January 2022. About 1.8% were hospitalized without complication, 1.8% were admitted to intensive care or needed intensive respiratory support, and 31 children died.
The researchers found that children in the Southern United States were more than three times as likely to have more severe complications compared with other areas of the country.
“It matters where you live,” Dr. Lehmann noted. “While we do not know what causes children in the South to have worse outcomes, our findings call for an exploration of possible causes – such as weather and climate, immunization rates, public health or government messaging, mandates, and closures.”
The study also found that among children under age 5, those younger than 2 years old were at the highest risk for severe outcomes. This finding contradicts initial anecdotal observations suggesting that infants were not as prone to severe disease with COVID-19 as they were from other respiratory viruses such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
“While this wasn’t surprising to us – smaller airways are disproportionately affected by respiratory illness – it does mean that we have to be more vigilant when the little ones acquire COVID-19,” Dr. Lehmann added.
Finally, the study found that those with multiple chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease and lung disease, were more than twice as likely to have severe complications following COVID-19 infection, and the more chronic conditions they had, the higher the risk.
Other UTSW researchers who contributed to this study include lead author Robert W. Turer, M.D., Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine; first author and medical student Milan Ho, B.S.; Trish M. Perl, M.D., M.Sc., Professor of Internal Medicine; Zachary M. Most, M.D., M.Sc., Assistant Professor of Pediatrics; Bhaskar Thakur, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Family and Community Medicine, Emergency Medicine, and Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and a member of the O’Donnell School of Public Health; John J. Hanna, M.D., Assistant Instructor of Internal Medicine; Marlon I. Diaz, B.S., Sameh Saleh, M.D., Madison Pickering, M.S., and Richard J. Medford, M.D., all with the Clinical Informatics Center; medical student Julia A. Casazza, B.S.; and Postdoctoral Research Fellow Alexander P. Radunsky, Ph.D.
Dr. Lehmann holds the Willis C. Maddrey, M.D. Distinguished Professorship in Clinical Science. Dr. Perl, a member of the O’Donnell School of Public Health, holds the H. Ben and Isabelle T. Decherd Chair in Internal Medicine in Honor of Henry M. Winans, Sr., M.D.
This study was funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health (UL1 TR003163).
About UT Southwestern Medical Center
UT Southwestern, one of the nation’s premier academic medical centers, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty members have received six Nobel Prizes and include 26 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 20 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 13 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators. The full-time faculty of more than 3,100 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide care in more than 80 specialties to more than 120,000 hospitalized patients, more than 360,000 emergency room cases, and oversee nearly 5 million outpatient visits a year.
Source: UT Southwestern Medical Center
Family Caregivers are Filling the Gap
More than 53 million Americans serve as “informal” caregivers filling critical roles that make independent living possible for people with disabilities.
MIDDLEVILLE, MICHIGAN, UNITED STATES /EINPresswire.com/ — In the wake of a direct care worker shortage, more than 53 million Americans serve as “informal” caregivers filling critical roles that make independent living possible for people with disabilities and chronic health conditions. However, family caregiving can take a financial, emotional, and physical toll on those performing the unpaid work. Below, we explore five opportunities to help family caregivers build sustainable and strong caregiving relationships.
Family caregivers are critical resources in the quest to promote independence and autonomy among people with disabilities, and they deserve all the support our communities can offer.”— Steve Locke
Determine Whether Payment is Possible
In some cases, family caregivers can receive financial compensation for their caregiving. Medicaid’s Self-Directed Services program, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Veteran-Directed Care program, certain Home and Community-Based Services programs, many long-term care insurance plans, and even some employers offer stipends to informal caregivers providing necessary care.
Make a Plan for Respite Care
Creating a respite care plan helps caregivers build in time on a regular basis to take a break from caregiving and pass their responsibilities on to a trustworthy provider. The AARP outlines the process for creating a plan, including identifying what you and your loved one need and who could provide support. Professional respite care resources are available through the Senior Corps, local Area Agency on Aging, and Elder Helpers.
Find Peer Support
Up to 40% of informal caregivers report that caregiving makes them feel alone, yet there are many others experiencing the same scenarios and connecting can help caregivers cope. Your local Center for Independent Living can connect you with caregiving support groups, the Area Agency on Aging can provide assistance, or even nonprofit or religious groups like Courage to Caregivers that link volunteer peer mentors with caregivers.
Ask for Help!
The digital age has brought a wealth of apps that make it easier for caregivers to communicate their needs and get other friends and family members on board to help. Whether you need alternative transportation to a medical appointment or would love a friend to drop off dinner a few days per month, apps like Carely, Caring Village, and LotsaHands provide tools to help caregivers coordinate caregiving responsibilities among family and friends.
Pay Attention to your Mental Health
Up to 4 in 10 caregivers report that they “never relax,” and one survey revealed that more than half of caregivers polled had experienced suicidal ideation during the COVID pandemic. Caregiving while experiencing this level of mental anguish is dangerous for both the caregiver and the patient. In cases like this, finding an alternate source of care at least part of the time is necessary. Individuals in crisis can call 988 for 24/7 mental health support and the Caregiver Action Network can provide a listening ear, resources, and assistance.
Family caregivers are critical resources in the quest to promote independence and autonomy among people with disabilities, and they deserve all the support our communities can offer. As organizations like MiSILC advocate for formal and informal caregivers at the highest levels, nonprofits and community resources can provide the services necessary for effective, sustainable caregiving. Learn more about our work at MiSILC.org.
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Stay Balanced this Holiday Season with Health-Ade Kombucha
Celebrate the return of a seasonal favorite plus a new limited-edition collab
LOS ANGELES /PRNewswire/ — Health-Ade, makers of delicious, bubbly beverages that support a happy and healthy gut, are celebrating feeling good from the inside out this holiday season. A perfect swap for alcohol or soda, Health-Ade Kombucha’s living probiotics help keep your gut in balance while enjoying the season’s festivities and indulging in your favorite holiday foods.
To celebrate the season, Health-Ade Kombucha has launched its seasonal holiday flavor, Holiday Cheers, which expertly blends notes of ginger, vanilla, allspice, and cacao for the perfect sip to spread the cheer all season long. This winter staple is a perfect accompaniment for sipping by the fire, enjoying as a festive treat, or even as a delicious probiotic hostess gift for those holiday parties and celebrations. Every bottle of Health-Ade’s Holiday Cheers Kombucha will help you celebrate the seasonal flavors you love, while supporting a happy and healthy gut.
“Health-Ade is a delicious, easy way to support your gut health during the holiday season,” says Claire Chewning, Health-Ade’s Registered Dietitian Advisor. “Good nutrition is all about adding IN, not restricting unnecessarily. Adding in sources of fermented foods and probiotics, like kombucha, can increase the number of good bacteria in your gut. For many, this can help manage symptoms of bloating and other digestive discomforts. For another gut-happy practice, you can also consider swapping alcohol for a few fun Health-Ade Kombucha mocktails. Cheers to a delicious and nourished holiday season!”
Special for this season, Health-Ade has partnered with fellow Los Angeles-based brand Mar Mar to create a limited edition Holiday Minis candle set. The Mar Mar x Health-Ade Kombucha collaboration features three best-selling Mar Mar scents reimagined with a Health-Ade twist. Titled The Bold, The Rebel, and The Optimist these 2oz votives are wrapped in Health-Ade’s beloved and recognizable color schemes to make the perfect gift set for anyone on your list and a great companion to your Health-Ade Kombucha selection.
You can purchase the limited-edition candle set and Holiday Cheers flavor now on health-ade.com for yourself and all of the Health-Ade Kombucha lovers on your holiday gift list. The Mini Candle set retails for $60, or you can bundle with your favorite case of Health-Ade for a $10 discount. Holiday Cheers can also be found at select retailers nationwide, while supplies last.
About Health-Ade Kombucha
Health-Ade creates feel-good, bubbly beverages with gut health benefits so you can follow your gut and show the world what you’re made of. The brand got started in the Brentwood Farmers Market in 2012 selling its flagship kombucha drinks. Instantly gaining a cult following in Southern California, Health-Ade Kombucha rapidly expanded to sell nationwide in over 65,000 stores including Whole Foods Market, Sprouts, Safeway / Albertsons, Kroger, Publix, and Target. All Health-Ade products are naturally fermented with high-quality ingredients and are certified organic, non-GMO, gluten-free and vegan, and each bottle of Health-Ade Kombucha exceeds the World Health Organization’s daily standard for probiotics.
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