Category Archives: disease

What does the Eastman-Certichem Lawsuit mean for old tough guys?

The Eastman Certichem Lawsuit:

Eastman Certichem Lawsuit
“Buy into it or your head goes in the toilet.”

Eastman Chemical company has filed a lawsuit against a tiny company (Certichem, see earlier post) that tests chemicals for estrogen activity.  Eastman was one of the first companies to produce and market Bisphenol A-free (BPA-free) water bottles.  The problem is that BPA-free is not the same thing as Estrogen-Activity Free.  As bad luck would have it, Eastman’s product  seems to have tested positive for Estrogen activity.  That is a bad news for Eastman and other producers of plastic products.   One would hope that Eastman would go back to the lab and change their formula.  They still have a huge market advantage and people would appreciate their continued efforts to produce safe, high quality materials.  People respect those who can recognize their own weaknesses and admire those who persist in their efforts.  I tell my students this all the time.

Eastman vs. Certichem: will research be squelched?

Certichem Eastman Lawsuit and Man Boobs
What does the Eastman-Certichem Lawsuit mean for old tough guys?  Are man-boobs inevitable?  Or can Certichem stay alive in the face of the Eastman onslaught?

Maybe they are working on this privately, but are embarrassed, or fearful that people might lose faith in them.  What they have done is sue Certichem for publishing the results of their tests.  Certichem is headed by Dr. George Bittner a neuroscientist at the University of Texas.  Academics publish stuff.  That’s how we rack up points, status and look hot to one another.   Articles published in scientific journals undergo (usually) rigorous peer review.  See video for an historical look at peer-review.  Competition to publish in top-ranked journals like Environmental Health Perspectives is intense and only top quality work will make it to publication.  Certichem published in Environmental health Perspectives.


Word in the hallways is that Eastman may be trying to shut Certichem down.  As a multi-billion dollar company Eastman can probably do that.  It would be a shame to lose Certichem’s voice and to lose the contributions a small company can offer to our future.  Perhaps Eastman could work with, instead of against, small businesses.  A lot of innovation, ingenuity and drive come from such places.  It would be to Eastman’s, and everyone’s, advantage to support them.

If Eastman wins the lawsuit, then Plastic with Estrogen Activity will continue to be sold.  What does that mean for old tough guys?  Future research may tell.

Below are links to the Certichem paper and to the American Chemical Council’s response.   Yang et al.’s (Certichem’s) response to criticism can be found here.

Yang CZ, Yaniger SI, Jordan VC, Klein DJ, & Bittner GD (2011). Most plastic products release estrogenic chemicals: a potential health problem that can be solved. Environmental health perspectives, 119 (7), 989-96 PMID: 21367689

Kelce WR, & Borgert CJ (2011). In vitro detection of estrogen activity in plastic products using a sensitive bioassay: failure to acknowledge limitations. Environmental health perspectives, 119 (9) PMID: 21885376

Celiac Disease: protecting children from Celiac and Gluten Intolerance

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is a problem of auto-immunity and exposure to the plant protein gluten.  It can be a rough road, especially for children.  They can’t eat the same things other children eat.  Other kids and even adults may not understand that something that seems so normal to them, like a cupcake or sandwich, can cause serious pain and discomfort for a celiac child.

two children without celiac disease
Two children enjoy a Box lunch at CrossFit Seven in Fort Worth, TX.

Celiac disease is more common in people of European descent and probably has a strong genetic component.  However, there are other factors involved as well.  An individual may be predisposed to developing Celiac disease but not get it unless a combination of other factors line up as well.

Can Celiac Disease be Prevented?

One thing I had written about in an earlier post was the possibility that gut flora (microbial species and ratios of species) might influence the development of Celiac disease.  Intestinal flora in infants will be dependent on whether the infant was born by C-section and on whether he or she was breast fed or bottle fed.  The infant digestive system is not completely developed at birth.  It is suited for breast milk.  New research published this month (October 2012) supports a role for bacterial ecology in Celiac Disease.

Delaying introduction of wheat until the infant reaches 12 months of age appears to reduce risk that a genetically at-risk child will develop the disease.  Children with a genetic predisposition to Celiacs may take longer to develop an intestinal ecology favorable for wheat (and possibly other foods) than other children.  The study was a joint project of the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the Universita` Politecnica delle Marche, in Ancona, Italy.

Should I let my children eat gluten?

The answer to that seems to be yes.  Not exposing your children to gluten may make them more likely to develop celiac disease.A Systematic Review of infant feeding practices and incidence of Celiac (Coelicac) disease has also been published very recently (Szajewska et al. 2012).  The authors suggest that the best time to introduce wheat into an infant’s diet is between 4 and 7 months, and that it should be done while the child is still breastfeeding.   Introducing wheat before a child is under 4 months increases the likelihood that he or she will develop Celiac Disease.  Likewise, delaying introduction until a child is older than seven months may also increase risk of Celiac’s.

Gluten-free diets, such as the Paleo Diet, are very popular right now, especially within the CrossFit community.  If you are wondering “what is CrossFit?” here is a link.  If you are wondering “what is the paleo diet?” try this link.  Do parents who raise their non-celiac children on gluten free diets put them at risk of developing celiac disease? That could be the case.  This website, “Growing Up Gluten Free” is written and maintained by a child with celiac disease.  It helped me understand what life is like for kids like her.

There are lots of unknowns still.  The Szajewska paper does a great job of defining what they are.  

Sellitto M, Bai G, Serena G, Fricke WF, Sturgeon C, Gajer P, White JR, Koenig SS, Sakamoto J, Boothe D, Gicquelais R, Kryszak D, Puppa E, Catassi C, Ravel J, & Fasano A (2012). Proof of concept of microbiome-metabolome analysis and delayed gluten exposure on celiac disease autoimmunity in genetically at-risk infants. PloS one, 7 (3) PMID: 22432018

Szajewska H, Chmielewska A, Pieścik-Lech M, Ivarsson A, Kolacek S, Koletzko S, Mearin ML, Shamir R, Auricchio R, Troncone R, & PREVENTCD Study Group (2012). Systematic review: early infant feeding and the prevention of coeliac disease. Alimentary pharmacology & therapeutics, 36 (7), 607-18 PMID: 22905651