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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

Substances Causing Disease in Multiple Generations ?

Remember the issues regarding DES daughters and sons said to be suffering additional diseases, and a class action settlement in the Netherlands ? More recently, there are some new indicators that some chemicals inflict some epigentic changes that will or may cause multigenerational disease issues.

For a 2006 nonscience article, see this Vanity Fair article on claims that Agent Orange is causing horrible deformities in third-generation descendants of persons exposed to Agent Orange. For more science, here is a new ScienceDaily article on BPA exposure during pregnancy.

"Taylor and colleagues made this discovery by exposing fetal mice to BPA during pregnancy and examining gene expression and DNA in the uteruses of female fetuses. Results showed that BPA exposure permanently affected the uterus by decreasing regulation of gene expression. These epigenetic changes caused the mice to over-respond to estrogen throughout adulthood, long after the BPA exposure. This suggests that early exposure to BPA genetically "programmed" the uterus to be hyper-responsive to estrogen. Extreme estrogen sensitivity can lead to fertility problems, advanced puberty, altered mammary development and reproductive function, as well as a variety of hormone-related cancers. BPA has been widely used in plastics and other materials. Examples include use in water bottles, baby bottles, epoxy resins used to coat food cans, and dental sealants.

"The BPA baby bottle scare may be only the tip of the iceberg." said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. "Remember how diethylstilbestrol (DES) caused birth defects and cancers in young women whose mothers were given such hormones during pregnancy. We’d better watch out for BPA, which seems to carry similar epigenetic risks across the generations. "

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