Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine (Environ Health Prev Med )

Publisher: Springer Verlag


Journal of the Japan Society for Hygiene

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Springer Verlag

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Publications in this journal

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The Hokkaido Study on Environment and Children’s Health is an ongoing cohort study that began in 2002. The study consists of two prospective birth cohorts, the Sapporo cohort (n = 514) and the Hokkaido large-scale cohort (n = 20,940). The primary goals of this study are to first examine the potential negative effects of perinatal environmental chemical exposures on birth outcomes, including congenital malformations and growth retardation; second, to evaluate the development of allergies, infectious diseases and neurodevelopmental disorders and perform longitudinal observations of the children’s physical development to clarify the causal relationship between these outcomes and environmental chemicals; third, to identify individuals genetically susceptible to environmental chemicals; finally, to identify the additive effects of various environmental factors in our daily life, such as secondhand smoke exposure or low folate intake during early pregnancy. In this paper, we introduce our recent progress in the Hokkaido study with a cohort profile updated in 2013. For the last ten years, we followed pregnant women and their offspring, measuring various environmental chemicals, i.e., PCB, OH-PCB and dioxins, PFCs (Perfluorinated Compounds), Organochlorine pesticides, Phthalates, bisphenol A and mercury. We discovered that the concentration of toxic equivalents (TEQ) of dioxin and other specific congeners of PCDF or PCDD have effects on birth weight, infants’ neurodevelopment and immune function. There were significant gender differences in these effects; our results suggest that male infants have more susceptibility to those chemical exposures than female infants. Interestingly, we found maternal genetic polymorphisms in AHR, CYP1A1 or GSTs that significantly modified the dioxin concentrations in maternal blood, suggesting different dioxin accumulations in the bodies of individuals with these genotypes, which would lead to different dioxin exposure levels. These genetic susceptibility factors influenced the body size of children born from mothers that either smoked or were passively exposed to tobacco smoke. Further studies investigating the correlation between epigenetics, the effects of intrauterine exposure to environmental chemicals and developmental factors related to health and disease are warranted.
    Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine 01/2013; 18(6).
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    ABSTRACT: To evaluate the protective effects ofGinkgo biloba extract (GBe) which has antioxidant activity against peripheral neuropathy due to diabetes mellitus, slow axonal transport and morphology of sciatic nerve including endoneurial microvessels were examined in 12 rats with diabetes mellitus induced by streptozotocin (STZ, 60mg/kg, b.w., i.p.). Six of the diabetic rats were treated with 0.1 % of GBe for 6 weeks from one week after the STZ injection. Serum glucose and lipid peroxide levels in GBe-treated diabetic rats were significantly lower than those in untreated diabetic rats (p<0.01, respectively), though the serum glucose level was higher than that in the control rats. L-[35S] methionine pulse radiolabeling with subsequent gel fluorography demonstrated that mean velocities (Vmean) of actin and β-tubulin, i.e. slow component b (SCb) transport in untreated diabetic rats were significantly lower than those in control rats (p<0.05, respectively); mean diameter of axons in the former rats was significantly smaller than that in the latter (p<0.01). Vmean of actin transport in GBe-treated diabetic rats was significantly faster than that in untreated diabetic rats (p<0.05). Vmean of slow axonal transport was significantly correlated with mean diameter of axons in the three groups of rats combined (p<0.01). On electron microscopy, severe altered endoneurial microvessels decreasing in luminal area together with endothelial cell degeneration or hypertrophy, pericyte debris and basement membrane thickening were observed in untreated diabetic rats; on the other hand these findings were less prominent in the diabetic rats treated with GBe. It is suggested that GBe treatment may protect disturbed slow axonal transport and pathological alterations of peripheral nerve with abnormal endoneurial microvasculature from diabetes mellitus by antioxidant activity.
    Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine 04/2012; 5(2):53-59.
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    ABSTRACT: The effect of daily walking on body fat distribution was investigated using an electronic pedometer and ultrasonography. Subjects were 77 women, aged 31 to 72 years. They were divided into four groups according to the average number of steps they walked per day (I<7,500, 7,500 ≤II<10,000, 10,000 <III<12,500, 12,500 ≤IV). Subcutaneous fat in the trunk and limbs, and the minimum thickness of subcutaneous fat (Smin) and the maximum thickness of preperitoneal fat (Pmax) below the xiphoid process were measured by ultrasonography. Abdominal wall fat index (AFI) reflecting the intra-abdominal fat accumulation was obtained by dividing Pmax by Smin. Fat distribution was analyzed by ANCOVA, controlled for age, body mass index (BMI), percent body fat, and menopausal status. Energy and macronutrient intake were obtained through a nutritional survey. There were no significant differences in anthropometric variables, energy and macronutrient intake, and subcutaneous fat thickness in trunk and limbs. Pmax of Group I was significantly higher than Group IV. Furthermore, Group I showed significantly higher AFI than the other three Groups (II, III, IV). The results of this study suggested that women who walked less than 7,500 steps per day tend to have significantly increased intra-abdominal fat accumulation.
    Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine 04/2012; 5(3):85-89.
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    ABSTRACT: Analysis of policy functions, with a focus on their major participants, elicits a clear picture of the decision-making process for smoking control in Japan. Activities of various advocacy groups have affected the functions of policy, including: Intelligence, Promotion, Prescription, Invocation, Application and Appraisal. In fulfilling these functions, they have affected every issue they faced by creating, transforming and propagating information in line with their interests and by influencing government decisions using coalition-building and the lobbying of elected officials. Furthermore, they have determined the development and implementation of various programs, even assuming key roles in substantiating the decisions. On the other hand, political leverage by the tobacco industry, exercised through various policy functions, intimidated the government leadership and eventually controlled its actions. When the nonsmokers’ rights groups emerged, they gradually started to take part in policy functions, sometimes in cooperation with the health agency. The initial and final forms of smoking control policies in society have been deeply affected by the involvement of these groups.
    Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine 04/2012; 4(4):156-164.
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    ABSTRACT: There is a general recognition of the role of low birthweight (LBW) as a major determinant of infant mortality rates. Since the rate of LBW has been increasing over the past fifteen years in Japan, we decided to ascertain the risk factors related to it, and also to verify whether or not maternal leisure-time physical activities including sports activities, before pregnancy and during gestation, affected the rate of LBW babies. In our study of the 2,682 questionnaires delivered within a year to the Municipal Health Centers of the three cities chosen for this study, 1,714 questionnaires were analyzed. The results in a univariate analysis showed that maternal height, pre-pregnancy weight, length of gestation, smoking, hospitalization before the 37th week of gestation, a history of LBW, and occupational activities were significantly associated with LBW. In logistic regression analyses, mothers of smaller stature, less pre-pregnancy weight, less length of gestation and mothers who were, furthermore, hospitalized before the 37th week of gestation, smoked, had previously delivered a LBW baby or had experienced stressful events during pregnancy were more likely to have LBW babies. The results showed that maternal leisure-time physical activities before and/or during pregnancy had no bearing on the delivery of a LBW baby.
    Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine 04/2012; 5(2):72-80.
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    ABSTRACT: To examine the relationships between anger expression and blood pressure (BP) levels and their effect modification by stress coping behaviors, the authors analyzed data from a cross-sectional study of 790 Japanese male workers aged 20–60 years. We used the Spielberger anger expression scales to measure anger-out, anger-in, and anger-control. Relationships between anger expression scales and mean systolic and diastolic BP levels were examined in the total sample and in two subgroups of high and low stress coping behaviors (low coping behavior group: having none, one, or two coping behaviors; and high coping behavior group: having three or more coping behaviors). Anger expression scales were not associated with BP levels in the total sample. Among men who reported only two or fewer coping behaviors, however, the anger-out score was significandy associated with systolic blood pressure (SBP) levels while no association was found among men who reported the larger number of coping behaviors. Anger-in and anger-control were not associated with BP levels in either low or high coping behavior groups. This study suggests that male workers who do not express their anger have a higher probability of developing high BP when they have no or few stress coping behaviors.
    Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine 04/2012; 5(1):37-42.
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    ABSTRACT: The physical status and serum mineral concentrations for people aged 10 to 68 years living in an agricultural southern region of Nepal were determined. Systolic (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) for both sexes in the 10–14 year age group were low (p<0.05. vs the other age groups) and those for the over 50-year-olds tended to be higher than the other age groups. The mean values of total proteins (TP) (8.6 ± 0.5 g/dl for males and 8.7 ± 0.6 g/dl for females) were high due to an increase of globulin (3.9 ± 0.4 g/dl for males and 4.1 ± 0.5 g/dl for females). More than three-fourths of the subjects of both sexes showed calcium (Ca) levels of 9.0–11.2 mg/dl and about 65% of them showed potassium (K) levels of 4.8–5.4 mEq/1. A significant positive correlation between DBP and serum K was observed (p<0.05). Serum inorganic phosphorus (IP) correlated with age (p<0.001) and body mass index (BMI) (p<0.001). The serum Ca levels correlated with TP (r=0.31, p<0.001), albumin (Alb) (r=0.50, p<0.001), IP (r=0.31, p<0.001), K (r=0.32, p<0.001) and chlorine (Cl)(r=-0.37, p<0.001). Cl was associated with TP (r=-0.21, p<0.05), Alb (r=-0.36, p<0.001) and IP (r=-0.21, p<0.05). These results suggested that Ca intake for the subjects seemed to be insufficient although their serum Ca level was within normal.
    Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine 04/2012; 5(1):1-5.
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    ABSTRACT: Chronic infection and inflammation contribute to a substantial part of environmental carcinogenesis. Recently, it has been estimated that chronic inflammation accounts for approximately 25% of cancer cases. Various infectious diseases and physical, chemical, and immunological factors participate in inflammation-related carcinogenesis. Under inflammatory conditions, reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, which are generated from inflammatory and epithelial cells, may play an important role in carcinogenesis by causing DNA damage. 8-Nitroguanine is a mutagenic DNA lesion formed during chronic inflammation. In an earlier publication, our group reported the results of an immunohistochemical analysis of animals infected with the liver fluke Opisthorchis viverrini and demonstrated for the first time that 8-nitroguanine was formed at the sites of carcinogenesis. This DNA lesion was found to accumulate in the carcinogenic process in clinical specimens of cancer-prone inflammatory diseases caused by various pathogens, including human papillomavirus and Epstein-Barr virus. Moreover, strong 8-nitroguanine formation in tumor tissues was closely associated with a poor prognosis. On the basis of these findings, 8-nitroguanine could be a potential biomarker to evaluate the risk of inflammation-related carcinogenesis and the prognosis of cancer patients. In this review, the significance of 8-nitroguanine formation in inflammation-related carcinogenesis and tumor progression will be discussed.
    Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine 11/2009; 15(2):63-72.
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    ABSTRACT: We have attempted to upgrade and validate an in-house cDNA microarray system developed by our group for the evaluation of chemical toxicity. To establish an in-house microarray, we selected genes that play pivotal roles in detoxifying exogenous substances and maintaining homeostasis in the liver. To validate the system, we examined gene expression profiles in mouse liver following treatment with different doses of carbon tetrachloride (CCl(4)). The data were also analyzed by pathway analysis tools. We upgraded our array system by collecting genes that are responsive to xenobiotic receptors, apoptosis-related genes, and stress-responsive genes. The acute toxicity of CCl(4) was confirmed by elevated levels of serum transaminase and histopathological findings. The microarray data showed the CCl(4) treatment induced significant changes in gene expression in the mouse liver, and the ingenuity pathways analysis revealed alterations in gene expression in inflammation-related networks. We have established a focused microarray system that may be useful for use in toxicogenomics studies. Using this array system, we gained insight into the mechanisms by which CCl(4) exerts its toxic effects. The results of our study also indicate that the combination of focused arrays and bioinformatics tools is helpful in the mechanistic analysis of chemical toxicity.
    Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine 11/2009; 15(2):105-14.
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    ABSTRACT: This study is aimed at the evaluation of countermeasures in terms of the total number of patients and deaths, the number of vaccine doses used, and the time for eradication as examined through simulations of the outbreak of smallpox following a bioterrorist attack in the center of Okayama City. Three countermeasures were considered: traced vaccination (TV), mass vaccination (MV), and school closure. An individual-based model was adopted, in which every individual is assigned their own personal information, behavioral pattern, and interactions among social settings to simulate the situation on a realistic basis. The influence of residual immunity obtained by past vaccination reflected age-dependent immunity to smallpox in Japan. MV performed within a 2-day period at the same time in 10 school districts had the highest effectiveness in reducing the total number of patients and deaths among all simulations. Performing both TV and MV simultaneously was much more effective than performing TV or MV individually. The decrease in the number of patients with TV or MV in combination with school closure was faster than that by TV or MV without school closure. According to the simulations results, it was advisable to carry out MV, or both TV and MV, simultaneously with school closure as countermeasures against a smallpox epidemic initiated by a bioterrorist attack.
    Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine 09/2009; 15(2):84-93.
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    ABSTRACT: The Quick Environment Exposure Sensitivity Inventory (QEESI(c)) has been used as a questionnaire to evaluate subjective symptoms of patients with multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), also known as idiopathic environmental intolerance, in Japan. However, no cutoff value for Japanese subjects has yet been established. We designed this study to establish a cutoff value for Japanese subjects using QEESI(c) for screening of MCS patients. A questionnaire using the QEESI(c) was administered to 103 MCS patients and 309 healthy control subjects matched for age and sex. QEESI(c) scores of the two groups were compared using logistic regression analysis, receiver operating characteristic analysis, and the Mann-Whitney test. Cutoff values for Japanese subjects were determined for the Chemical Intolerance subscale (40), Symptom Severity subscale (20), and Life Impact subscale (10). The subjects whose scores exceeded the cutoff values in any two subscales accounted for 88.4% of the patients but only 14.5% of the controls. Our results suggest that subjects meeting two out of three subscale criteria can be screened as "patients suffering from a low level of environmental chemicals such as MCS" in Japan.
    Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine 08/2009; 14(5):267-75.