Archive for environmental
Activation of methionine synthase by insulin-like growth factor-1 and dopamine: a target for neurodevelopmental toxins and thimerosal
For those of us that are not biochemists and our eyes glazed over at the title to this one–basically, environmental toxins can have their negative effects by inhibiting the methylation of DNA. Remember that methylation reactions are incredibly important and effect such a basic role in human physiology. Thus, problems with methylation can lead to problems in many organ systems.
In this study, the authors found that environmental toxins such as mercury-containing thimerosal inhibit DNA methylation. For the life of me, I cannot see how anyone in the pharmaceutical industry could have even considered the use of mercury as a preservative. I can see it now…”I need something to extend the shelf live of this vaccine so we can make a larger profit on vaccines given to infants. Hey–how about that potent neurotoxin mercury?”
Activation of methionine synthase by insulin-like growth factor-1 and dopamine: a target for neurodevelopmental toxins and thimerosal.
How strong is the evidence of a link between environmental chemicals and adverse effects on human reproductive health?
For those concerned about environmental toxicity this is a good review article. The take home message is that these chemicals from our environment have a definite impact on our health, and reproductive effects are only one type. Many of these chemicals have estrogen-like activities and contribute to many women in our society being estrogen dominant. Dr. John Lee’s strong push for use of natural progesterone would help lower the impact of these xenoestrogens.
bmj.com Sharpe and Irvine 328 (7437): 447 -
You try to do everything for your kids’ health. Yet childhood obesity statistics continue to mount. Could something they do doing every day be affecting them?
In today’s overly toxic world there are many things you are exposed to that harm your health and you may not even be aware of them or how likely your exposure is. Some examples include:
- Teflon / non-stick coatings on cookware
- Fragrances in many items such as candles and sprays
- Flame retardants in most clothing, linens and furniture
- Rapidly grilled meat
While the list is much longer, these are a few that we are all very commonly exposed to. The one I did not put on this list, though, it likely the most common exposure.
That 12 ounce bottled water sitting next to you right now.
Somewhere along the way, society decided that we were at risk of spontaneously desiccating to a husk if we did not have water immediately accessible at every single moment of our lives. Personally, I haven’t seen it happen, but I suppose it could.
This behavior has had a price to pay. The exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) has increased as a result of this proximity to bottled water. I have certainly written in past blogs about how bad BPA can be for our health, increasing the risk of obesity, diabetes and certain cancers like breast cancer.
This particular article takes a look at the relationship between BPA exposure and childhood obesity statistics. Researchers looked at the urine BPA levels of children aged 9-19 and looked at how many suffered from childhood obesity. Here’s what they found:
- Those with the lowest BPA had the lowest risk of childhood obesity.
- Those kids with the highest levels of BPA had a 22% greater risk of being classified as having childhood obesity than the kids with the lowest levels.
Granted, 22% is not a huge number, but given that the childhood obesity statistics are continually heading up, anything we can do to impact this process is a good thing. So scrap the plastic water bottle and start giving your dehydrated children tea in a BPA free water container.
Are you still buying bottled water for your family?
We live in a chemical soup made up of fragrances, flame retardants, pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, particulate matter and Teflon coating.
98% of us have even detectable levels of a compound called perfluorooctanoic acid in our blood. Just the name sounds pretty serious. (I’m guessing that the 2% without perfluorooctanoic acid in their systems are living in the deep woods regions of the Saskatchewan province and wouldn’t even now Teflon coating if you hit them upside the head with the pan…)
Environmental chemicals to which we are exposed to have a clear, negative impact on multiple aspects of our health. Effects on fertility, the thyroid, obesity and cancer risk are clear. Damage to the cardiovascular system is also on the list.
Perfluorooctanoic acid is a chemical most commonly associated with non-stick cooking surfaces like Teflon coating. Many do not give a second thought to the cookware they use and consider the convenience of non-stick cookware an advantage. That is, of course, until they drop dead of a heart attack or have to have a leg amputated because the arteries going into the leg are so clogged up. Not so convenient then…
This particular study looked at the relationship between the perfluorooctanoic acid found in Teflon coating and heart disease. Normally, I wouldn’t have thought that a study like this was important enough to share with Ranting’s readers, but the results were much stronger that I would have thought.
Researchers first made sure they accounted for all traditional cardiovascular risk factors (age, sex, race/ethnicity, smoking status, body mass index, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and serum cholesterol level). Even after taking the risk due to these issues were into account, the contribution of perfluorooctanoic acid to heart disease, stroke and peripheral artery disease were significant:
- Those with the highest levels in their blood had DOUBLE the risk of heart disease and stroke
- They also had a 178% greater risk for peripheral artery disease
These aren’t small numbers. And consider that this risk is on TOP of existing risk factors.
The nice thing is that you can easily avoid non-stick cookware, at least at home. Personally, I’ve used stainless steel cookware for years and never really have had any problems with getting it clean. Sometimes requires a little extra elbow grease, but then I get some exercise on top of it all.
So what have YOU done to reduce your exposure to environmental chemicals that damage your health?
Asthma treatment plans seem to include only medications. However, what if you could identify household items that contribute to allergy induced asthma?
It seems all too common for toddlers, elementary school kids and teens to be dealing with asthma and allergies. Both of these conditions are created when the Th2 arm of the immune system (specifically our cell-mediated immunity) becomes too dominant. I call the Th2 cytokines the “guard dogs” or our immune system. They stop stuff from getting in. The Th1 aspect I call the “attack dogs.” They work to destroy stuff once it enters. We obviously need balance between the two.
Things like exposure to normal healthy bacteria in our gut and exposure to pets very early in life challenge our attack dog immune cells and keep them trained. Antibiotic use EVER and living in an otherwise sterile, hygiene environment does not train the attack dog immune cells.
But did you also know that there are many chemicals in our environment that you are exposed to every single day that can increase the risk of asthma? This particular study looked at the presence of compounds know to mimic hormones in the body as well as chemicals already known to contribute to asthma. Researchers looked at just where many of these compounds may be lurking, and you’ll likely find most of the list present in your home, car and office. They include:
- Vinyl products (think shower curtains)
- Fragranced products such as perfume, air fresheners, and dryer sheets
Researchers found that many chemicals that they were able to find on products you would be exposed to were not listed on product labels.
Let’s go back to number 2 above, because this is the one that I think most people have a hard time understanding. Or maybe they are just not willing to admit that fragrances are a problem. Just to clear things up–they ARE.
Think on this. Just how many of these do you expose yourself to?
- Dryer sheets (we use those dryer ball thingees)
- Carpet fresheners (so the carpet still stinks, but you’ve covered up the stinky smell with a chemical one)
- Most candles (very few are made with only essential oils)
- Air fresheners (see carpet fresheners, above…)
- Bath stuff (bombs, shampoos, bubble baths, salts)
As an example of just how oblivious society is, let me relate a recent experience I had in a fancy, “natural” bath type store. This particular store sells many things that they tout as natural, one of them being bath bombs.
I asked one of the salespeople if they made any with just essential oils. When she was unable to find ANY, I stressed my concern with the term “fragrances.” She even called over her manager to assure me that these are still natural and that there are no problems with “fragrances.” I figured that right then and there was not the time to get into an argument over asthma triggers with the store manager. But you get the point….even this store promotes their products as “natural” and yet they are anything but.
So how many of these types of products do you have in your home that you, prior to reading this post, were not aware of?
Infertility, or problems getting pregnant, is becoming a greater burden for couples today. Luckily, with the right tips you can cure infertility naturally.
Sometimes, this is obvious, like adopting an anti-diabetic lifestyle (prediabetes is a MAJOR cause of infertility), reducing stress and exercising consistently. Sometimes, the problem is not so obvious.
Ninety-seven (yes…pretty much all of us) of Americans have a chemical in their bloodstream that makes pregnancy difficult. I think that most of us live in a comfortable oblivion when it comes to just how many chemicals we are exposed to on a daily basis and how much effect they have on our overall health and risk of chronic disease. But if we just ignore them, they won’t bother us, right??
PBDEs are chemicals used in flame retardants (furniture, clothing, dog beds, mattresses, etc…). As mentioned, the CDC states that they are present in the blood of 97% of Americans.
In this particular study, researchers tested the levels of certain PBDE’s in the blood of a group of pregnant women and asked them how long it took them to become pregnant.
Overall, the higher the levels in the blood stream of PBDEs, the longer it took for these women to get pregnant. At the high end, those women with the higher levels in their bloodstream took 40-50% longer to get pregnant.
This further reinforces the idea that infertility is a very systemic process, and forcing a woman’s body into pregnancy through fertility “experts” with medication can be a dangerous thing.
In this particular case, if PBDEs were higher, it means that the developing baby will ALSO be exposed to higher levels.
Bottom line? Evaluate constantly how many chemicals you and your children are exposed to and do your best to lower your exposure in any way possible.
So what changes did you or are you going to make to ensure that you had or have a healthy pregnancy?
Increased Rates of Chromosome Breakage in BRCA1 Carriers Are Normalized by Oral Selenium Supplementation
I know that I have had at least one patient come through my office that had prophalactic bilateral mastectomy because she carried the BRCA gene. I think few things demonstrate the influence that environment has on our genes than this situation. We have also seen that tamoxifen use attenuates the increased risk found in patients with the BRCA1 and 2 genotypes and now we may be able to add selenium to the list.
Conditions like autism, attention deficit disorder & asthma in children continue to increase. I believe that exposures in the womb are playing a major role.
The amount of chemicals we are now exposed to are legendary. The EPA registers some 82,000+ chemicals for use in the US, the vast majority of which have never been tested for safety. Then, we have chemicals produced because of the lifestyle choices that we make.
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) are compounds that are created when fossil fuels are burned. This can include fats (when grilled), incense and candles. Exposure also occurs when PAH hitch rides on dust particles.
The way we prepare our grilled meats can affect the levels of PAH present. Things like cooking slower, adding spices and basting your meat will help to lower the production of PAH.
These compounds and other environmental toxicants have already been shown to affect pregnancy and lead to lower birth weights. Exposure to other toxic compounds in the womb have been linked to the presence of autism.
This particular study looks closer at the affect of exposure to PAH on the development of attention deficit disorder and anxiety in children 6-7 years later. Researchers determined exposures either by sampling the air the pregnant mom was exposed to for contamination or looking at the damage these compounds cause to the blood in the mom or umbilical cord.
There was a clear relationship between the higher exposure levels and the child’s behavior years later.
This is obviously a concern. Dietary choices, exercise, stress levels and choice of a prenatal vitamin are all conscious choices during pregnancy. But not so much for these environmental exposures. These tips may help:
- Grill meat slowly, loaded with spices and marinated (or avoid altogether)
- Avoid incense and candle burning
- Take your shoes off at the door, use air cleaners in larger rooms and dust frequently
- Strictly avoid sealing your driveway while pregnant (just in case it was on the to-do list…)
These approaches, coupled with a good quality diet and a good prenatal, should go a long way to protect your little developing baby for decades to come.
How have you cut your toxic exposure in your life, pregnant or not?
We used to think that the placenta guards the developing baby and filters out everything but the needed nutrients for strong development in the womb. This thought process was smashed with the 10 Americans Study done by the Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org).
This study measured the presence of chemicals in umbilical cord samples of newborns and found literally hundreds of chemicals that the newborns had been exposed to in the imagined safety of the womb. Many of these chemicals are well known to cause neurological damage, reproductive damage and cancer.
Chlorpyrifos is a pesticide that used to be in very heavy use in both agriculture and home use until January of 2002, when the amount in products for home use was restricted, but agricultural use continued. As a result, most of us, when tested, have levels of chlorpyrifos in our bloodstream. In other words, it is a chemical still widely used and you are very likely to have it in your bloodstream.
This would be all fine and dandy if it was glucosinolates from brocolli we were talking about. But it’s not. Chlorpyrifos has been linked to many health concerns, the most recent of which, in this particular study, to brain damage in children who were heavily exposed in the womb. Pretty scary for any couple looking to get pregnant.
So what can you do to lower your developing baby’s exposure to harmful chemicals while in the womb (and after)? Follow these tips:
- Switch to organic fruits and vegetables, particularly those on EWG’s Dirty Dozen list
- Avoid all pain medications, even over the counter Tylenol
- Supplement with at least 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily
- Avoid rapidly grilled meat
- Supplement with probiotics during both pregnancy and nursing
- Avoid drinking out of plastic water bottles
- Do NOT spray your house for bugs or weeds beginning for several months prior to getting pregnant
Overall, the task may initially seem daunting given the high levels of chemicals in our environment. However, with some education and conscientious decisions about the exposures and dietary choices, there should be little cause for concern.
What did you, are are you going to, give up for your pregnancy?
So maybe the title is a little dramatic. But problems with infertility do not rely solely on the woman. Viewing infertility from a male standpoint the most important factor to consider is environmental toxicity. Believe it or not, there are clothes you may wear to work everyday that will affect sperm quality and count.
The EPA registers some 83,000 chemicals for use in the US, and the vast majority of these have never been scrutinized for their health effects. However, there are some classes that have been evaluated more fully, and the picture is rarely a positive one. Frequently on the list of common household exposures are the flame retardants. They are in everything these days, from your mattress to your clothing to your furniture and your dog’s bedding. One would think we were under constant pressure to undergo spontaneous combustion.
Flame retardants have shown clear effects on the thyroid gland and cancer risk. This particular study looked at the presence of flame retardants in the house dust of men attending a fertility clinic. Researchers looked at the presence of two compounds, tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate (TDCPP) and triphenyl phosphate (TPP), and found that they were in 96% and 98% of the men. As the levels of these compounds in house dust increased, sperm quality decreased.
While one would think that dusting may help the issue, it is not likely to be the case. Researchers merely looked at dust rather than the blood levels in these patients. Exposure to these compounds likely comes from multiple sources, including those mentioned above. The best option is to reduce your overall exposure to these compounds by replacing old cushions, buying clothing without flame retardants and not sleeping on a flame retardant mattress.
In addition to the flame retardants, chemicals like BPA have also show to affect hormone levels in men that could lead to reduced sperm quality and quantity. Quitting smoking and dietary quality will also have a positive effect on fertility levels in men, with compounds like zinc and lycopene (the red pigment found in tomatoes) having been shown to help.
The bottom line is that, for those men who are a part of an infertile couple, it is not merely your job to just sit patiently at the “infertility” clinic appointment for your partner. You have to take an active role in improving your health as well.