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Papers of the Month

By Jerry Phelps
January 2006

1. Taylor B, Skelly D, Demarchis LK, Slade MD, Galusha D, Rabinowitz PM. Proximity to pollution sources and risk of amphibian limb malformation. Environ Health Perspect. 2005 Nov;113(11):1497-501.

Implications: Although the human health relevance of these findings remains to be determined, they are disturbing none-the-less. Future studies need to focus on determining the exact chemical or mixture of exposures that produce these effects and whether similar exposures in humans would produce adverse effects. Another key need is identifying human health effects that are analogous to frog limb deformities by establishing gene sequence homology between frogs and humans.

2. Strom SS, Gu Y, Gruschkus SK, Pierce SA, Estey EH. Risk factors of myelodysplastic syndromes: a case-control study. Leukemia. 2005 Nov;19(11):1912-8.

Implications: This study suggests a variety of factors that may influence the development of the diverse types of MDS. The environmental exposures are common and their impact on the risk of MDS in the population as a whole may be significant. Overall the results suggest the origins of the disease are complex underlying the diversity of the conditions. The authors conclude that future studies should try to link exposures with specific types of MDS.

3. Mazumder DN, Steinmaus C, Bhattacharya P, von Ehrenstein OS, Ghosh N, Gotway M, Sil A, Balmes JR, Haque R, Hira-Smith MM, Smith AH. Bronchiectasis in persons with skin lesions resulting from arsenic in drinking water. Epidemiology. 2005 Nov;16(6):760-5.

Implications: These results add to the growing evidence that arsenic causes not only lung cancer, but non-malignant lung disease as well. The authors conclude that future research on risk of arsenic-induced lung disease in susceptible populations, such as children or the elderly, may be useful in evaluating the safety of current arsenic drinking water standards.

4. Vermeulen R, Lan Q, Zhang L, Gunn L, McCarthy D, Woodbury RL, McGuire M, Podust VN, Li G, Chatterjee N, Mu R, Yin S, Rothman N, Smith MT. Decreased levels of CXC-chemokines in serum of benzene-exposed workers identified by array-based proteomics. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Nov 22;102(47):17041-6. Epub 2005 Nov 14.

Implications: These results point out the usefulness of employing proteomics as a tool for the discovery of early biomarkers of exposure to environmental chemicals. Theoretically, similar analyses could be performed to identify susceptible individuals or could be a diagnostic tool for discovering the cause of disease. The study also sheds light on the possible mechanisms of the immunosuppressive effects of benzene.

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