Roundup: Prostate Cancer Rates Decline; Fluoride in Bottled Water; and e-Cigs’ Link to Seizures

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April 5, 2019


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New Data: Prostate Cancer Diagnoses, Deaths Declining in U.S., Worldwide

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death among men in the United States. But here and in many other nations, the rates of prostate cancer diagnoses and deaths are on the decline, says new research.

The rate of prostate cancer diagnosis has decreased in seven countries from 2008 to 2012, and rates of stabilized in 33 countries, new data has found. From 2008 to 2012, the United States had the greatest decrease in the number of men diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Overall, researchers reviewed data from the World Health Organization data spanning five continents from 1980 to 2012. Worldwide, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer diagnoses and sixth most common cause of death from cancer among men, according to the new study which was funded by the American Cancer Society.

“Previous studies have indicated significant variation in prostate cancer rates, due to factors including detection practices, availability of treatment, and genetic factors,” said the study’s lead author, MaryBeth Freeman, senior associate scientist for surveillance research at the American Cancer Society in Atlanta. “By comparing rates from different countries, we can assess differences in detection practices and improvements in treatment.”

Of the 44 countries examined for data on diagnoses, prostate cancer rates during the most recent five-year period increased in four countries, with Bulgaria showing the largest increase. Rates decreased in seven countries, with the United States showing the largest decrease. Rates stabilized in the remaining 33 countries.

Ms. Freeman said she and colleagues “were surprised and pleased” to see that so many nations have achieved stability in prostate cancer rates, meaning that rates have not increased during the period examined. In coming years, she said, global health experts hope to see more nations move toward decreasing incidence and mortality rates.

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FDA Proposes Lowering Standard Levels of Fluoride in Bottle Water

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is proposing that bottled water contain a lower concentration of fluoride than the current standard. However, some environmental groups and scientists believe that the fluoride level would still be too high under the proposed change.

If finalized by the U.S., the new regulation would lower allowable levels of fluoride in U.S. packaged and imported bottled water to 0.7 milligrams per lite. That’s a slight decline from the current FDA-approved standard of 0.8 milligrams per liter.

The FDA’s proposed change follows a 2015 recommendation from the U.S. Public Health Service, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, that called for 0.7 milligrams per liter as the preferred fluoride concentration for community water systems that add fluoride.

The new rule “is based on findings from evolving research on optimal concentrations of fluoride that balances fluoride’s benefits in preventing tooth decay with its risk of causing dental fluorosis, a condition most often characterized by white patches on teeth,” the FDA said in its statement.

Some scientists are concerned that fluoride levels are still too high based on recent, separate studies that found higher fluoride levels in pregnant women were linked to lower IQ and increased risk of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) among children.

In one study looking at children in Mexico, researchers found that a decline in children’s scores on intelligence tests for every 0.5 milligram-per-liter increase in fluoride exposure, beyond 0.8 milligrams, per liter detected in a pregnant mother’s urine.

 

Seizures in Teens, Young Adults Possibly Linked to e-Cigarette Use: FDA

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it has received 35 reports of people, primarily teens and young adults, having seizures after using e-cigarettes between 2010 and 2019. However, the FDA said it’s unclear whether e-cigarettes caused the seizures.

The FDA states that “seizures or convulsions are known potential side effects of nicotine poisoning and have been reported in scientific literature in relation to intentional or accidental swallowing of nicotine-containing e-liquids.”

E-cigarette liquids contain high concentrations of nicotine, which is an addictive substance. If swallowed, it can cause nausea, sweating, dizziness and tremors, according to the National Capital Poison Center. In severe cases, nicotine poisoning can cause seizures.

While 35 cases may not seem like much compared to the total number of people using e-cigarettes, states the FDA in a statement. “We also recognize that not all of the cases may be reported. We believe these 35 cases warrant scientific investigation into whether there is in fact a connection.”

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