Chemistry

This month, the International Agency for Research on Cancer will issue another paper suggesting a chemical causes cancer - probably one of the compounds in coffee - and journalists will read what IARC actually claims about calculating risk and assume IARC calculates risk. Then, after blowback from scientists who do not consult for Environmental Defense Fund or were not hand-picked to be on the IARC committee, IARC will state they don't talk about risk.

There is a difference between hazard and risk, of course. Caffeine is far more hazardous than BPA, glyphosate or aspartame but, like with those three compounds, you'd have to drink 7,000 cups of something containing them per day to get a toxic effect.

In the world of chemistry, one minus one almost always equals zero.


Soy isoflavones and peptides may inhibit the growth of microbial pathogens that cause food-borne illnesses, according to a new study from University of Guelph researchers.

Soybean derivatives are already a mainstay in food products, such as cooking oils, cheeses, ice cream, margarine, food spreads, canned foods and baked goods.

The use of soy isoflavones and peptides to reduce microbial contamination could benefit the food industry, which currently uses synthetic additives to protect foods, says engineering professor Suresh Neethirajan, director of the BioNano Laboratory.

U of G researchers used microfluidics and high-throughput screening to run millions of tests in a short period.


A range of diseases -- from diabetes to cardiovascular disease, and from Alzheimer's disease to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder -- are linked to changes to genes in the brain, and a new study has found that hundreds of those genes can be damaged by fructose, prevalent in foods like honey. 


Humans may have the most complex breast milk of all mammals. Milk from a human mother contains more than 200 different sugar molecules, way above the average 30-50 found in, for example, mouse or cow milk.

The role of each of these sugars and why their composition changes during breastfeeding is still a scientific puzzle, but it's likely connected to the infant immune system and developing gut microbiome. 


A recent study has identified specific intake levels of xanthohumol, a natural flavonoid found in hops, that significantly improved some of the underlying markers of metabolic syndrome in laboratory animals and also reduced weight gain.

Laboratory mice were fed a high-fat diet, and given varying levels of xanthohumol. Compared to animals given none of this supplement, the highest dosage of xanthohumol given to laboratory rats cut their LDL, or "bad" cholesterol 80 percent; their insulin level 42 percent; and their level of IL-6, a biomarker of inflammation, 78 percent.


(

The Nipa Nuts

Nipa oil, unknown in the chemistry handbooks, had been characterized in the Philippines and Indonesia.  These studies however, do not agree with each other as shown on their results in Table 1. 

       Table 1 Discrepancies on the characteristic studies on Nipa oil 

Learning from history should keep us from repeating our mistakes. Yet when it comes to environmental politics, the opposite seems to be true. History and improved scientific understanding fail to inform, while alarmism and irrational fears drive policy.

BrainhurtsSo, if you take literally what Patricia Hunt, Ph.D. and colleagues reported in the new issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, you could only conclude that two chemically unrelated, so-called endocrine disruptors alone were costing the EU $1.63 billion in female reproductive disorders. That is, unless they neglected to add the VAT, in which case it will be more.

The rosy periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus) is a plant that produces organic compounds used to treat cancer, arrhythmia, and other medical conditions and now the details of the metabolism process for these compounds on a cellular level has been reveaked. Their data suggests the existence of an unknown mechanism which regulates the creation, movement and distribution of compounds within plants.