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      Environmental Chemical Assessment in Clinical Practice: Unveiling the Elephant in the Room


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          A growing body of evidence suggests chemicals present in air, water, soil, food, building materials and household products are toxicants that contribute to the many chronic diseases typically seen in routine medical practice. Yet, despite calls from numerous organisations to provide clinicians with more training and awareness in environmental health, there are multiple barriers to the clinical assessment of toxic environmental exposures. Recent developments in the fields of systems biology, innovative breakthroughs in biomedical research encompassing the “-omics” fields, and advances in mobile sensing, peer-to-peer networks and big data, provide tools that future clinicians can use to assess environmental chemical exposures in their patients. There is also a need for concerted action at all levels, including actions by individual patients, clinicians, medical educators, regulators, government and non-government organisations, corporations and the wider civil society, to understand the “exposome” and minimise the extent of toxic exposures on current and future generations. Clinical environmental chemical risk assessment may provide a bridge between multiple disciplines that uses new technologies to herald in a new era in personalised medicine that unites clinicians, patients and civil society in the quest to understand and master the links between the environment and human health.

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          Most cited references232

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          Diabetes mellitus: a "thrifty" genotype rendered detrimental by "progress"?

          J V Neel (1962)
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            Worldwide trends in childhood overweight and obesity.

            Obesity has become a global epidemic but our understanding of the problem in children is limited due to lack of comparable representative data from different countries, and varying criteria for defining obesity. This paper summarises the available information on recent trends in child overweight and obesity prevalence. PubMed was searched for data relating to trends over time, in papers published between January 1980 and October 2005. Additional studies identified by citations in retrieved papers and by consultation with experts were included. Data for trends over time were found for school-age populations in 25 countries and for pre-school populations in 42 countries. Using these reports, and data collected for the World Health Organization's Burden of Disease Program, we estimated the global prevalence of overweight and obesity among school-age children for 2006 and likely prevalence levels for 2010. The prevalence of childhood overweight has increased in almost all countries for which data are available. Exceptions are found among school-age children in Russia and to some extent Poland during the 1990s. Exceptions are also found among infant and pre-school children in some lower-income countries. Obesity and overweight has increased more dramatically in economically developed countries and in urbanized populations. There is a growing global childhood obesity epidemic, with a large variation in secular trends across countries. Effective programs and policies are needed at global, regional and national levels to limit the problem among children.
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              Obesity in young men after famine exposure in utero and early infancy.

              In a historical cohort study of 300,000 19-year-old men exposed to the Dutch famine of 1944-45 and examined at military induction, we tested the hypothesis that prenatal and early postnatal nutrition determines subsequent obesity. Outcomes were opposite depending on the time of exposure. During the last trimester of pregnancy and the first months of life, exposure produced significantly lower obesity rates (P less than 0.005). This result is consistent with the inference that nutritional deprivation affected a critical period of development for adipose-tissue cellularity. During the first half of pregnancy, however, exposure resulted in significantly higher obesity rates (P less than 0.0005). This observation is consistent with the inference that nutritional deprivation affected the differentiation of hypothalamic centers regulating food intake and growth, and that subsequent increased food availability produced an accumulation of excess fat in an organism growing to its predetermined maximum size.

                Author and article information

                Role: Academic Editor
                Int J Environ Res Public Health
                Int J Environ Res Public Health
                International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
                02 February 2016
                February 2016
                : 13
                : 2
                : 181
                School of Health Sciences, RMIT University, Bundoora, Victoria 3083, Australia; s9711185@ 123456student.rmit.edu.au
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence: marc.cohen@ 123456rmit.edu.au ; Tel.: +61-3-9925-7440

                These authors contributed equally to this work.

                © 2016 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

                This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons by Attribution (CC-BY) license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

                : 11 December 2015
                : 27 January 2016

                Public health
                environmental chemical assessment,exposome,clinical practice,toxicant,environmental medicine,personalized medicine,systems biology


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