Health Landmark study links microplastics to serious health problems


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If anyone ever doubted that plastic pollution could affect their health, this could make them think again. If the accumulation of microplastics in the body really does cause or amplify diseases, then we have a problem on a global scale that is only going to get worse with time, as the quantity of plastics in the world only increases and it can take centuries for invisible microplastics to completely disintegrate. What's more once micro- or nano-particles of plastic are inside the body there is no way to get them out...

Nature: Landmark study links microplastics to serious health problems

"People who had tiny plastic particles lodged in a key blood vessel were more likely to experience heart attack, stroke or death during a three-year study.

Plastics are just about everywhere — food packaging, tyres, clothes, water pipes. And they shed microscopic particles that end up in the environment and can be ingested or inhaled by people.

Now the first data of their kind show a link between these microplastics and human health. A study of more than 200 people undergoing surgery found that nearly 60% had microplastics or even smaller nanoplastics in a main artery. Those who did were 4.5 times more likely to experience a heart attack, a stroke or death in the approximately 34 months after the surgery than were those whose arteries were plastic-free
Scientists have found microplastics just about everywhere they’ve looked: in oceans; in shellfish; in breast milk; in drinking water; wafting in the air; and falling with rain.

Such contaminants are not only ubiquitous but also long-lasting, often requiring centuries to break down. As a result, cells responsible for removing waste products can’t readily degrade them, so microplastics accumulate in organisms.
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In case you have missed it before, here is a new article from ScienceNews explaining more about this study.

The study has gained attention worldwide and renewed concerns about the effects of plastics on human health. It’s also one of a growing number of reports that have found microscopic particles of plastic inside our bodies’ tissues, including the lungs, liver and blood.

Though the new study’s link between plaque plastics and health outcomes seems clear, Legler says, confirming the team’s findings is essential — and could have great implications. A confirmation, she says, could mean that “reducing the amount of plastic in our environment would significantly reduce our chances of having a stroke [or heart attack].”

I think that many similarities have difficult to determine exactly the health consequences of microplastics because not all plastics are the same. They really should analyse the effects of each type of plastics on health. These are completely different molecules with completed different consequences.
More bad news from microplastics for health.

Science daily: Microplastics make their way from the gut to other organs

Over a four-week period, Castillo, postdoctoral fellow Marcus Garcia, PharmD, and other UNM researchers exposed mice to microplastics in their drinking water. The amount was equivalent to the quantity of microplastics humans are believed to ingest each week.

Microplastics had migrated out of the gut into the tissues of the liver, kidney and even the brain, the team found. The study also showed the microplastics changed metabolic pathways in the affected tissues.

"We could detect microplastics in certain tissues after the exposure," Castillo says. "That tells us it can cross the intestinal barrier and infiltrate into other tissues."

He has previously found that microplastics are also impacting macrophages -- the immune cells that work to protect the body from foreign particles.

In a paper published in the journal Cell Biology & Toxicology in 2021, Castillo and other UNM researchers found that when macrophages encountered and ingested microplastics, their function was altered and they released inflammatory molecules.

"It is changing the metabolism of the cells, which can alter inflammatory responses," Castillo says. "During intestinal inflammation -- states of chronic illness such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, which are both forms of inflammatory bowel disease -- these macrophages become more inflammatory and they're more abundant in the gut".

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