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Concept: Latvia


Ethnic Belarusians make up more than 80% of the nine and half million people inhabiting the Republic of Belarus. Belarusians together with Ukrainians and Russians represent the East Slavic linguistic group, largest both in numbers and territory, inhabiting East Europe alongside Baltic-, Finno-Permic- and Turkic-speaking people. Till date, only a limited number of low resolution genetic studies have been performed on this population. Therefore, with the phylogeographic analysis of 565 Y-chromosomes and 267 mitochondrial DNAs from six well covered geographic sub-regions of Belarus we strove to complement the existing genetic profile of eastern Europeans. Our results reveal that around 80% of the paternal Belarusian gene pool is composed of R1a, I2a and N1c Y-chromosome haplogroups - a profile which is very similar to the two other eastern European populations - Ukrainians and Russians. The maternal Belarusian gene pool encompasses a full range of West Eurasian haplogroups and agrees well with the genetic structure of central-east European populations. Our data attest that latitudinal gradients characterize the variation of the uniparentally transmitted gene pools of modern Belarusians. In particular, the Y-chromosome reflects movements of people in central-east Europe, starting probably as early as the beginning of the Holocene. Furthermore, the matrilineal legacy of Belarusians retains two rare mitochondrial DNA haplogroups, N1a3 and N3, whose phylogeographies were explored in detail after de novo sequencing of 20 and 13 complete mitogenomes, respectively, from all over Eurasia. Our phylogeographic analyses reveal that two mitochondrial DNA lineages, N3 and N1a3, both of Middle Eastern origin, might mark distinct events of matrilineal gene flow to Europe: during the mid-Holocene period and around the Pleistocene-Holocene transition, respectively.

Concepts: Europe, Eastern Europe, Ukraine, Russia, Soviet Union, Poland, Latvia, Belarus


Cancer incidence and mortality estimates for 25 cancers are presented for the 40 countries in the four United Nations-defined areas of Europe and for the European Union (EU-27) for 2012.

Concepts: European Union, United States, Portugal, United Kingdom, Europe, Estonia, European integration, Latvia


Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide worldwide. It is a broad spectrum herbicide and its agricultural uses increased considerably after the development of glyphosate-resistant genetically modified (GM) varieties. Since glyphosate was introduced in 1974, all regulatory assessments have established that glyphosate has low hazard potential to mammals, however, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded in March 2015 that it is probably carcinogenic. The IARC conclusion was not confirmed by the EU assessment or the recent joint WHO/FAO evaluation, both using additional evidence. Glyphosate is not the first topic of disagreement between IARC and regulatory evaluations, but has received greater attention. This review presents the scientific basis of the glyphosate health assessment conducted within the European Union (EU) renewal process, and explains the differences in the carcinogenicity assessment with IARC. Use of different data sets, particularly on long-term toxicity/carcinogenicity in rodents, could partially explain the divergent views; but methodological differences in the evaluation of the available evidence have been identified. The EU assessment did not identify a carcinogenicity hazard, revised the toxicological profile proposing new toxicological reference values, and conducted a risk assessment for some representatives uses. Two complementary exposure assessments, human-biomonitoring and food-residues-monitoring, suggests that actual exposure levels are below these reference values and do not represent a public concern.

Concepts: European Union, Evaluation, Europe, Estonia, European integration, International Agency for Research on Cancer, Legislature, Latvia


Early childhood inorganic arsenic (i-As) exposure is of particular concern since it may adversely impact on lifetime health outcomes. Infants' urinary arsenic (As) metabolites were analysed in 79 infants by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometric detection (IC-ICP-MS) to evaluate i-As exposure pre- and post-weaning. Levels of i-As in rice-based weaning and infants' foods were also determined to relate to urinary As levels. Higher As levels, especially of monomethylarsonic acid (MMA) and dimethylarsinic acid (DMA), were found in urine from formula fed infants compared to those breastfed. Urine from infants post-weaning consuming rice-products resulted in higher urinary MMA and DMA compared to the paired pre-weaning urine samples. The European Union (EU) has regulated i-As in rice since 1st January 2016. Comparing infants' rice-based foods before and after this date, little change was found. Nearly ¾ of the rice-based products specifically marketed for infants and young children contained i-As over the 0.1 mg/kg EU limit. Efforts should be made to provide low i-As rice and rice-based products consumed by infants and young children that do not exceed the maximum i-As level to protect this vulnerable subpopulation.

Concepts: European Union, Europe, Japan, Switzerland, Estonia, Italy, European integration, Latvia


Nonmedical prescription drug use (NMPDU) refers to the self-treatment of a medical condition using medication without a prescriber’s authorization as well as use to achieve euphoric states. This article reports data from a cross-national investigation of NMPDU in five European Countries, with the aim to understand the prevalence and characteristics of those engaging in NMPDU across the EU.

Concepts: Pharmacology, European Union, United States, Europe, Estonia, Food and Drug Administration, European integration, Latvia


Cancer mortality statistics for 2015 were projected from the most recent available data for the European Union (EU) and its six more populous countries. Prostate cancer was analysed in detail.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Cancer, Metastasis, European Union, Europe, Estonia, European integration, Latvia


Approval for glyphosate-based herbicides in the European Union (EU) is under intense debate due to concern about their effects on the environment and human health. The occurrence of glyphosate residues in European water bodies is rather well documented whereas only few, fragmented and outdated information is available for European soils. We provide the first large-scale assessment of distribution (occurrence and concentrations) of glyphosate and its main metabolite aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) in EU agricultural topsoils, and estimate their potential spreading by wind and water erosion. Glyphosate and/or AMPA were present in 45% of the topsoils collected, originating from eleven countries and six crop systems, with a maximum concentration of 2mgkg(-1). Several glyphosate and AMPA hotspots were identified across the EU. Soil loss rates (obtained from recently derived European maps) were used to estimate the potential export of glyphosate and AMPA by wind and water erosion. The estimated exports, result of a conceptually simple model, clearly indicate that particulate transport can contribute to human and environmental exposure to herbicide residues. Residue threshold values in soils are urgently needed to define potential risks for soil health and off site effects related to export by wind and water erosion.

Concepts: European Union, Sweden, Europe, Estonia, International trade, Surface runoff, European integration, Latvia


The Neolithic transition was a dynamic time in European prehistory of cultural, social, and technological change. Although this period has been well explored in central Europe using ancient nuclear DNA [1, 2], its genetic impact on northern and eastern parts of this continent has not been as extensively studied. To broaden our understanding of the Neolithic transition across Europe, we analyzed eight ancient genomes: six samples (four to ∼1- to 4-fold coverage) from a 3,500 year temporal transect (∼8,300-4,800 calibrated years before present) through the Baltic region dating from the Mesolithic to the Late Neolithic and two samples spanning the Mesolithic-Neolithic boundary from the Dnieper Rapids region of Ukraine. We find evidence that some hunter-gatherer ancestry persisted across the Neolithic transition in both regions. However, we also find signals consistent with influxes of non-local people, most likely from northern Eurasia and the Pontic Steppe. During the Late Neolithic, this Steppe-related impact coincides with the proposed emergence of Indo-European languages in the Baltic region [3, 4]. These influences are distinct from the early farmer admixture that transformed the genetic landscape of central Europe, suggesting that changes associated with the Neolithic package in the Baltic were not driven by the same Anatolian-sourced genetic exchange.

Concepts: Europe, Estonia, Ukraine, Neolithic, Russia, Stone Age, Poland, Latvia


Aims: This study compared the level of alcohol mortality in tsarist and contemporary Russia. Methods: Cross-sectional and annual time-series data from 1870 to 1894, 2008 and 2009 on the mortality rate from deaths due to ‘drunkenness’ were compared for men in the 50 provinces of tsarist ‘European Russia’: an area that today corresponds with the territory occupied by the Baltic countries, Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine and the Russian provinces to the west of the Ural Mountains. Results: In 1870-1894, the male death rate from ‘drunkenness’ in the Russian provinces (15.9 per 100,000) was much higher than in the non-Russian provinces. However, the rate recorded in Russia in the contemporary period was even higher-23.3. Conclusions: Russia has had high levels of alcohol mortality from at least the late 19th century onwards. While a dangerous drinking pattern and spirits consumption may underpin high alcohol mortality across time, the seemingly much higher levels in the contemporary period seem to be also driven by an unprecedented level of consumption, and also possibly, surrogate alcohol use. This study highlights the urgent need to reduce the level of alcohol consumption among the population in order to reduce high levels of alcohol mortality in contemporary Russia.

Concepts: Death, Baltic Sea, Europe, Estonia, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russian language


Higher intake of lignans, diphenolic plant compounds, may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. We assessed the dietary intake of four lignans: matairesinol, secoisolariciresinol, lariciresinol and pinoresinol. Furthermore, for the breads we supplemented the data with two more lignans: syringaresinol and medioresinol. Study subjects were 172 men and 97 women aged 40-75 years, residing in Riga, the capital of Latvia, all living at home, eating habitual food. Median total lignan intake was 2259 (range 1169-5759) μg/day. Secoisolariciresinol contributed 58% and syringaresinol 22% of lignan intake. Bread was the major food source of lignans in men (86%), whereas in women it was bread (57%) and flaxseed (35%).

Concepts: Food, Estonia, Bread, Lignan, Latvia, Baltic states, Lignans, Riga