Our Chemical Environment
In 1993, Mary Wolff, an associate professor at New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center, published a paper in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, indicating that exposure to certain chemicals may indeed play a role in breast cancer. Women with high blood levels of DDE, a DDT breakdown product, had a much greater risk of developing breast cancer — four times higher than women with low levels of DDE. DDT, an insecticide banned in the US in the 1970s, can mimic the hormone estrogen and is a known endocrine disrupter. Scientists from the University of Liverpool published research in the Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine stating that exposure even to small amounts of certain chemicals can increase the risk of developing cancer – particularly for infants and young adults. A study on rats published in the Dec. 6, 2006 online edition of Reproductive Toxicology found that environmental exposure to biphenol A during fetal life may possibly cause breast cancer in adult women.
Cancer is on the rise. Statistics in the United Kingdom indicate that between the years 1971 and 1999 Non- Hodgkin’s Lymphoma has risen 196% in men and 214% in women, the incidence of prostate
Are There Toxic Chemicals in Your Body?
The “body burden” of chemicals is tested by the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention every two years. It has found that the average American now has 116 synthetic compounds in his or her body, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. These include dioxin (from burning plastic), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (from auto exhaust) and organochlorine pesticides. Of course there are about 75,000 different chemicals produced in the United States each year, 3,000 of which are produced in quantities greater than 50,000 tons each year. Chemicals that were banned decades ago persist in the soil, air and water. DDT, banned 34 years ago, still exists in detectable levels in many people. It would be interesting to see the CDC’s result if all of these chemicals were tested for.
Recent studies have detected these pesticides, plastics and polymers not only in umbilical cord blood, but in the placenta, in human milk and in the bloodstreams and body fat of infants. These substances may have far reaching effects on our health. One toxin threatening mothers and children is mercury. Mercury has been linked to breast cancer, autism and attention deficit disorder. In 2002, a study found that nearly 15% of American women of reproductive age have enough of this contaminant in her blood to endanger a developing fetus.
Are You Being Harmed by Your Water Bottle?
Biphenol A, commonly known as BPA is a chemical that is used in the manufacture of soft plastics that are often used to make food containers and water bottles. Data was obtained from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and the research was published in JAMA (2008 Sept 17:300(11):1303-10). Urine samples were taken from 1,455 adults and tested for BPA. Researchers found that high BPA concentrations were associated with an increased risk for coronary heart disease, heart attack, angina and diabetes. Elevated liver enzymes (indicating liver cell damage) were also found in subjects with elevated BPA. Please call our office to learn more about how natural health care can improve the length and quality of your life.
Pollution and Endometriosis
A study appearing in Toxicology Science [2001; 59(1):147-59] demonstrated that animals with elevated serum levels of dioxin and chemicals similar to dioxin had a high prevalence of endometriosis, and the severity of disease correlated with the serum concentration of the toxic chemical. Research appearing in Human Reproduction [2005; 20(1):279-85 (ISSN: 0268-1161)] tested blood levels of PCBs in women with endometriosis and concluded that anti-estrogenic PCBs may be associated with the development of endometriosis.
Research appearing in Fertility and Sterility [2005; 84(2):305-12 (ISSN: 1556-5653)] also found a connection between the body burden of PCBs and similar chemicals to the incidence of endometriosis.
Chemical Exposure Causes a Variety of Health Problems
The incidence of diabetes and obesity may be increased by toxins in the environment. Research appearing in the journal Diabetes Care (30:622-628, 2007) indicates that that OC pesticides and nondioxin-like PCBs may be associated with type 2 diabetes risk by increasing insulin resistance, and POPs may interact with obesity to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Researchers at the University of New Hampshire found a connection between obesity and environmental pollution.
Research appearing in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (Vol. 92, No. 1 196-202) observed declining levels of testosterone that does not seem to be attributed to health or lifestyle and the authors concluded that “These results indicate that recent years have seen a substantial, and as yet unrecognized, age-independent population-level decrease in T in American men, potentially attributable to birth cohort differences or to health or environmental effects not captured in observed data.” One possible explanation of the lower testosterone levels is chemicals in the environment. Studies have that found environmental impacts on testosterone levels. For example, testosterone levels were lower in US Air Force veterans exposed to dioxins (Environmental Health Perspectives, Nov. 2006, vol. 114, #11). Testosterone levels were also lower in men exposed to phthalates at work (Environmental Health Perspectives, Nov. 2006, vol. 114, #11). Infertility in women has also been linked to chemical exposure. Exposure to BPA (biphenol A) is linked to prostate cancer in men.
Individually we know that many of these chemicals are dangerous. Very little research is done on combinations of chemicals. An article appearing in the May 10, 2006 issue of Scientific American does look into the dangers some of these chemicals have in combination. Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have tested four herbicides, two fungicides and three insecticides commonly used in American cornfields. Low concentrations (0.1 ppb) of the chemicals did not have much effect on developing tadpoles. When the tadpoles were exposed to all nine chemicals they developed endemic infection. The survivors ended up smaller than their counterparts raised in clean water–despite taking longer to mature into adults. So individually the chemicals did no harm, but in combination they were deadly. When you consider that there are about 100,000 different chemicals that we are exposed to, it may make you wonder what the long-term health effects are.
In general, when you think of chemical toxicity, you think of liver, but there is more to it than liver function. Some doctors diagnose and treat chemical toxicity with almost unbelievable detail—to the point where you might wonder, “How did he come up with that?” Often the patient’s problem is not that the liver has trouble removing the chemical, but rather the body can’t get the chemical to the liver to get rid of it. This is another reason why you want someone trained in nutrition to help you with your health and not just do it yourself. Coming up with an effective detoxification regimen takes some skill and knowledge.
Chemicals can bother you on a cellular level and the fats you consume can make the situation worse. Trans fats are produced when oil is hydrogenated. The food industry bubbles hydrogen through an oil, making it a sold fat. This makes the food have a longer shelf life and look more appealing. Have you ever made a meal that had a sauce? When it is stored in the refrigerator overnight, the sauce separates into oil and a solid material. This would happen to packaged food if the oil was not hydrogenated. Look at any bottled, creamy salad dressing; with few exceptions, they contain hydrogenated oil. Hydrogenated oils are in a lot of commercial baked goods as well. They are everywhere and you need to avoid them.
Are Chemicals Causing Your Symptoms?
Chemical exposure can cause a wide variety of symptoms, including fatigue, headaches, skin problems, digestive problems, recurrent Candidiasis, allergies and even cancer. Some occupations that involve chemical exposure are farmers, hairdressers, photographers, refinery and factory workers, airline employees, truck drivers, auto mechanics, painters, doctors and x-ray technicians. But in reality, all of us have an inappropriate amount of chemical exposure.
Just living on Earth gives us a fair amount of chemical exposure. How close do you live to a highway or airport? Air pollution is concentrated in the cities, but exists throughout the country. Farmers use liberal amounts of pesticides on their crops and liberal amounts of antibiotics in their animals. The amount of chemical exposure Americans get is unprecedented in history. Cancers of the liver, kidney and lymphatic system are on the rise. For people who are chronically ill, people who have multiple symptoms, who may be described as “just plain sick,” chemical toxicity is often one of their issues.
In the midst of this chemical bath we all are taking are people who suffer from many symptoms; they are like canaries that coal miners used to take into the mines. If the canary died, the miners knew that there were dangerous gasses present in the mine. In our society we have people who are exposed to the same chemical burden we all are.