Category Archives: Environmental Health

Reducing Your Risk of Cancer – 3 things you should include in your diet.

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Did you know that an estimated 1,529,560 people were diagnosed with cancer in 2010? That’s 4,190 new cases per day!

Unfortunately, we have become acutely aware that there are many things in our world that are carcinogenic and inevitably will find more things in the future.  Mutagens come from a variety of places including tobacco smoke and environmental pollutants.  Popular herbicides contain glyphosphate, a compound that depresses the function of important enzymes that are essential for detoxification.  The number one cancer causing mutagen, however, is our diet.  For example, the frying, baking, and roasting of carbohydrate rich foods produces acrylamide, which is a known cancer causing agent in animals.

Everyday we are surrounded by these mutagens that have the potential to cause a genetic mutation within our own cells resulting in a mistake in our genetic code.  According to the New England Journal of Medicine, “Cancer results from the accumulation of mutations in the genes that regulate cellular proliferation.”  As these mutations begin to accumulate the cells can no longer regulate their own production and begin to grow out of control.  They no longer demonstrate the innate ability of apoptosis.  Apoptosis is defined as programmed cellular death.  Healthy cells that develop abnormalities are programmed to destroy themselves when mistakes are made.  Cancer cells, because of excessive mutations, lose this ability and continue to reproduce despite the fact they are causing damage.

The human body has a very unique and effective way of dealing with chemicals that it may come into contact with.  This detoxification system has two phases within which it works.  They are aptly named Phase I and Phase II.  This system is able to detoxify even the most potent of chemicals, including pesticides and other foreign compounds found in the environment.  Although these systems are very complex, we will go over them briefly and broadly.

The molecules produced in Phase I may be even more toxic than the initial chemicals because the molecular groups that are added to them by the body’s detoxification system are very reactive.  This allows these molecules to act as free radicals in the liver.  This is not problematic as long as Phase II is working well. The Phase I molecules are usually quickly converted to harmless molecules for excretion in the urine or bile by Phase II.

At this point you may be asking, “Why do I need to worry about it if Phase II acts so quickly?”  For one, the process is slowed with age and some people metabolize slowly while others metabolize much faster.  This shows the need for nutritional supplementation which maximizes the efforts of Phase I and II and reinforces the idea that we should provide the liver with ample amounts of antioxidants.

So the question remains.  What can you do to help protect yourself from dangerous mutations that may lead to cancer in the future?  Many nutrients have been found to be essential cofactors for the detoxification system, but three have recently been found to directly enhance its activity.

Curcumin

The first is curcumin.  It is a nutrient that is derived from turmeric.  Turmeric has been used for centuries throughout India and Asia for a myriad of different maladies ranging from upset stomach to arthritis.  It has also been shown to reduce total cholesterol and inhibit LDL oxidation.

In a study at India’s Panjab University, researchers found that curcumin inhibited mutagenicity by as much as 80% against mutagens in cooked foods.  Curcumin has also been shown not only to be preventative but also helps reduce the progression of cancer.  Curcumin appears to act by boosting the activity of glutathione S-transferase which is an important Phase II enzyme.

Curcumin has also been shown to be a potent antioxidant.  Antioxidants are important because they scavenge free radicals throughout the system.  Free radicals act on the body on a cellular level producing damage in whatever they come in contact with.

Chlorophyllin

Another potent inhibitor of mutagenicity is chlorophyllin.  This is derived from the green pigment in plants called chlorophyll.  Chlorophyllin is beneficial because it is water soluble and is easily transported in the blood.  It has been shown to inhibit mutations in bacteria when placed in a Petri dish with known mutagens.

Although its precise mechanism of action is unknown, it is thought to act as a powerful antioxidant as well.  In one study, chlorophyllin was shown to promote apoptosis in human colon cancer cells.  This is important because it is thought that the alteration of the process of apoptosis is one mechanism by which cancer continues to reproduce.  Chlorophyllin is has also been shown to be heat stable which is important because it will maintain its powerful properties after ingested.

Broccoli Extract

The third powerful nutrient is broccoli extract.  That’s right. Mom knew more than she thought when she was force feeding you broccoli and cod liver oil!  According to an article in Life Extension magazine, “Broccoli is a plentiful source of glucosinolates, which are converted enzymatically into isothiocyanates. In the body, the isothiocyanates in broccoli boost production of several Phase II detoxification enzymes, enhance antioxidant status, and protect animals against chemically induced cancer.”

A study at Johns Hopkins University showed that broccoli extract significantly reduced incidence, multiplicity, and weight of mammary tumors in rats after exposure to known mutagens.  Its activity is thought to work by enhancing enzymatic activity in Phase II of the detoxification system.

Cancer levels continue to be very high in the United States.  With the never ending influx of new chemicals into our world it is important to protect ourselves with nutrients that have been proven to be beneficial in the prevention of cancer.  Curcumin, chlorophyllin and broccoli extract have been shown to be very effective.  Traditional medicine promotes early detection as a crucial weapon in defeating cancer.  Early detection is of course important, but it is not prevention.  We propose that all of our patients take an active role in their health and prevent serious illness through good nutrition.

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Forget the Flu Vaccine – Take Vitamin D!

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My most recent blog focused on the new report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) that stated most people in North America were getting enough vitamin D.  Their research, however, focused only on vitamin D as it pertains to bone health.  Vitamin D does much more than just support healthy bones.  In my opinion, the IOM’s report was way off base and I hope it does not encourage people to stop taking their vitamin D supplements.

As further evidence to this, take this recent research that I ran across today.

A clinical trial led by Mitsuyoshi Urashima and conducted by the Division of Molecular Epidemiology in the the Department of Pediatrics at the Jikei University School of Medicine Minato-ku in Tokyo found that vitamin D was extremely effective at halting influenza infections in children. The trial appears in the March, 2010 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Am J Clin Nutr (March 10, 2010). doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.29094)

The results are from a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study involving 334 children, half of which were given 1200 IUs per day of vitamin D3.

In the study, while 31 of 167 children in the placebo group contracted influenza over the four month duration of the study, only 18 of 168 children in the vitamin D group did. This means vitamin D was responsible for an absolute reduction of nearly 8 percent. (www.naturalnews.com)

Only 8 percent?  Yes 8 percent!  That may not seem like a lot, but compare this the most recent research available on flu vaccines which states that they only reduce the incidence of the flu by 1%!

I hear some of you.  You’re saying, “That can’t possibly be correct. My doctor said my flu vaccine will protect me from the flu.  If I get the vaccine, I won’t get sick.”

I’ve got the data to back it up.

The Cochrane Collaboration

The Cochrane Collaboration, as described on its own website, is, “…an international, independent, not-for-profit organization of over 28,000 contributors from more than 100 countries, dedicated to making up-to-date, accurate information about the effects of health care readily available worldwide.”

“We are world leaders in evidence-based health care,” the site goes on to say, followed by a quote from The Lancet which states, “The Cochrane Collaboration is an enterprise that rivals the Human Genome Project in its potential implications for modern medicine.” (www.naturalnews.com)

Anyone who is in health care knows about the Cochrane Collaboration and their studies.  They are some of the most trusted studies in the medical world.

Dr. Tom Jefferson, an epidemiologist, worked closely with the Cochrane Collaboration to evaluate the true effectiveness of the flu vaccines.  His findings were truly surprising to those in the traditional medical field.  You may access a great summary by the authors here for free if you are interested in reading it.  I will summarize it below.

Selection Criteria: Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) or quasi-RCTs comparing influenza vaccines with placebo or no intervention in naturally-occurring influenza in healthy individuals aged 16 to 65 years.

Main Results: A total of 50 reports were included in the review.  This included a total of about 70,000 people. They concluded that in ideal situations where the vaccine matched the virus in circulation a 4% reduction in flu rates were obtained.  This means 100 people would need to be vaccinated to prevent 4 cases of the flu.  In average conditions where the vaccine does not match the strain of flu virus there was a 1% reduction.  This means 1 case was prevented for every 100 people who get the vaccine.

Even in ideal conditions where the anticipated viral strain included in the vaccine matches the viral strain in the environment it only produced a 4% reduction!  Remember, the flu vaccine makers try to guess which strain of the flu will be most prevalent each season.  They rarely guess correctly because it’s simply not easy to predict. In fact, the Cochrane Report concluded that it is a…”relatively uncommon circumstance [that the] vaccine match[es] the viral circulating strain.”

That means most people that get the flu vaccine are only afforded a 1% reduction rate in the flu.

The Cochrane Report also warned of manipulation of data and evidence of bias on the part of the pharmaceutical industry:

This review includes 15 out of 36 trials funded by industry (four had no funding declaration). An earlier systematic review of 274 influenza vaccine studies published up to 2007 found industry funded studies were published in more prestigious journals and cited more than other studies independently from methodological quality and size. Studies funded from public sources were significantly less likely to report conclusions favorable to the vaccines. The review showed that reliable evidence on influenza vaccines is thin but there is evidence of widespread manipulation of conclusions and spurious notoriety of the studies. The content and conclusions of this review should be interpreted in light of this finding.

They also went on to conclude:

Our results may be an optimistic estimate because company-sponsored influenza vaccines trials tend to produce results favorable to their products and some of the evidence comes from trials carried out in ideal viral circulation and matching conditions and because the harms evidence base is limited.

Optimistic?! Wow. If a 1% reduction in flu rates is optimistic, I’d hate to see what realistic is!

So back to vitamin D.  Recall that a placebo controlled study recently released in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that vitamin D reduced the rate of flu in children by 8%.  That’s 800% more effective than the vaccines that are available.  I understand that this information steps on a lot of toes, but the numbers don’t lie.

Another plus to vitamin D is that its effectiveness does not rely on matching viral strains and guessing which virus is going to be most prevalent.  It works by regulating your immune system.

Also recall that the IOM says people are getting “enough” vitamin D as long as they are getting 600IU per day.  But this recent study has found added benefit for vitamin D at 1200IU?  Curious.  I think the IOM should reevaluate their stance.

This flu season consider an alternative to the flu shot.  The numbers show that it is not terribly effective.  You’d be better off by eating healthy, exercising and taking a little extra vitamin D.  For adults in the winter I recommend 4,000IU per day.  This will take care of your daily needs as well as protect you from the flu.

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Food is largest source of exposure to BPA

Agua

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Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a chemical additive that is used in many things but mainly in plastics and linings of food cans.  Up until a few years ago this was considered a harmless addition to our already high chemical exposure levels.  Then, it was found that exposure to this chemical is linked to serious side effects but you could avoid any consequences by not reusing that Poland Spring bottle, by not overheating your plastics in the microwave or by buying BPA free merchandise.  Now we are finding out that our largest exposure to BPA is our food itself.

BPA has been linked to breast cancer, heart disease, diabetes, male infertility and other health problems.  Recently a U.N. panel concluded that the BPA in the packaging of our foods is actually leaching into the food making our food the number one source of exposure.  This should not be surprising.  One only needs to see the aftermath of the oil spill in the gulf to see that chemicals can get everywhere given the opportunity.

Information is limited on BPA.  It certain amounts it poses threats to fetuses, infants and growing children.  No one is quite sure what it does to adults.  For me, that’s enough.  If you didn’t know if a gun was loaded, would you point it at someone and pull the trigger?  Hopefully not and this is similar.  Just because we don’t know if it’s dangerous and the government is unwilling to take a stand on it just yet, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be eliminated from our food supply.

This is just another reason to eat an unprocessed, natural diet.  Because this exposure of BPA is coming from foods that are packaged it can be avoided to some degree.  Eat a diet that is high in healthy protein, fats and vegetables and fruits.  Stay away from the packaged food as much as possible. Not only will you avoid BPA but you’ll also get all the great benefits of a healthy diet!

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FrankenSalmon – Genetically modified for whom?

It’s a good question.  Who benefits from genetically modified salmon?  Well for one, the company producing it does.

This fish in the back is genetically modified. The one in the front is a non-genetically engineered salmon of the same kind.

Financially, this would reduce the cost of farmed salmon.  And two, I suppose it would reduce the cost of farmed salmon in the supermarket.  That, however, is not a viable reason to genetically modify salmon because I never recommend people buy farmed salmon in the first place.

There has been a debate recently about the safety and use of genetically farmed salmon.  These salmon have been genetically modified to grow bigger and faster yet require 10% less food.  It’s called the AquAdvantage salmon.  It has genes inserted in it from its close cousin the Chinook salmon and from something called the pout fish.  The combination of this genetically engineered animal allows it to grow faster, larger and year round instead of just the warmer months.

This debate has made its way to the FDA who has yet to make a decision on whether to allow its sale.  So far all they have concluded is that “it is safe for human consumption.” I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in that because they also deem things like aspartame, artificial food dyes and high fructose corn syrup “safe for human consumption.”

There are several problems I see with genetically engineered salmon:

1. Environmental Impact

This is a biggie.  These salmon are not natural but they are farmed in natural environments.  They are farmed in the open ocean in huge nets that allow them to swim freely, more or less.  What happens when one escapes?  Millions of fish that are farmed in this manner escape every year.  They are sure to escape and because they are bigger and faster they will out compete the truly wild fish for everything from mates to food.  Then we will have genetically modified fish and non-genetically modified fish mixed together.  Why is this a problem?  Because the native salmon populations are already in danger and anything that could possibly eliminate them is a serious threat.  This qualifies.  It’s also problematic because our salmon population will no longer be pure.  No one can predict how nature will react and this is walking a dangerous line.

2. Is it safe to eat?

At this point, this is a question that remains unanswered.  I can say this though – an animal is born with a natural genetic code.  It has evolved over millions of years to operate best with that genetic code.  Changing that genetic code is potentially dangerous and could possibly have unknown consequences.  Genetic codes do change, that we know.  However, they do not change overnight as is the case with this new salmon.  They change over thousands of years and generation after generation is allowed to adapt.  We cannot possibly know what kind of impact allowing a fish to grow twice as fast will have on the quality of the meat or how it will affect it on a molecular level.  What if this rapid growth causes the production of an unwanted chemical within the muscle of these new fish?  What if that chemical, unknown to us, is dangerous the human health?  The possibility is there and it is dangerous.

3. Will you know you are eating this FrankenSalmon?

Should it be allowed for sale in the US, you will not be able to tell what kind of salmon you are eating.  Because the FDA says the genetically engineered salmon is not substantially different from regular salmon, AquaBounty wouldn’t be required to label it as genetically engineered.  This leaves us with basically no choice.  You could of course only consume wild salmon and you would be safe.  I always recommend this, but I am also a realist and know that it’s not always possible to get wild salmon everywhere you go.  This salmon will be farmed in Panama and currently it would be the only salmon farmed in Panama so under current labeling laws it would have to state that.  This may be another way to tell if it is genetically modified.  Unless something is done to make sure that genetically modified salmon are labeled as so, I fear people will be consuming them without knowing it and without a real choice in the matter.

These fish are actually siblings. The one in the front is not genetically modified, but the one in the back is.

Genetically engineering food is a slippery slope.  It opens up the proverbial can of worms.  Putting these fish into our food supply is a dangerous act and could lead to problems down the road in the environment and in human health.  At this point we simply do not know enough to safely put this into our diets.  Much more research and time needs to be dedicated to finding out whether this is safe for long term human consumption.

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Fruits and Veggies to Eat and to Avoid

My posts have recently focused on pesticides and their effect on human physiology in a variety of ways.  See Solving Childhood Obesity – Part II – Chemical Exposures, Toxins causing ‘grievous harm,’ cancer panel says, or Baby Bottles and BPA – You need to know the facts… for just a few examples.

The pesticide problem in this country is obviously a major one that contributes to everything from obesity to cancer.  The problem?  Most of our exposure to these pesticides is through eating the most nutritious foods – fruits and vegetables.

The Environmental Working Group recently released the ‘Dirty Dozen’ of fruit and vegetables that contain the highest pesticide counts.  They also provided a list of fruits and vegetables that are less problematic when consumed.  I have reprinted the list below.

The ‘Dirty Dozen’ – Only Consume From Organic Sources

  1. Celery
  2. Peaches
  3. Strawberries
  4. Apples
  5. Domestic blueberries
  6. Nectarines
  7. Sweet bell peppers
  8. Spinach, kale and collard greens
  9. Cherries
  10. Potatoes
  11. Imported grapes
  12. Lettuce

You May Consume from Non-Organic Sources

  1. Onions
  2. Avocados
  3. Sweet corn
  4. Pineapples
  5. Mango
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Asparagus
  8. Kiwi fruit
  9. Cabbage
  10. Eggplant
  11. Cantaloupe
  12. Watermelon
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Sweet potatoes
  15. Sweet onions

I always recommend that my patients eat as much as possible from organic sources.  I am, however, a realist and know that it is almost impossible to find all of your food from organic sources.  Even I don’t eat everything organic.

In the first list you see that they are all ready to eat.  You could pick any one of those dirty dozen right off the tree or vine and pop it in your mouth and enjoy.  However, that means that the pesticides are also applied directly to the skin of the fruit or vegetable.  The skin of these fruits and vegetables are soft and the pesticides are absorbed directly into the flesh of the produce.  Washing does you no good.  In fact, the tests were conducted only on produce that had been washed with a USDA high-power pressure water system.  The Environmental Working group found that you could potentially reduced your pesticide exposure by 80% by avoiding the dirty dozen or only eating them from organic sources.

In the second list you see fruits and vegetables that are consumed only after the tough skin has been removed.  The Environmental Working Group found little to no pesticide in the flesh of this produce.  I still recommend that you eat these organically because of the other benefits of organically grown produce.

Conventional wisdom has been that as long as you wash your produce you protect yourself from the dangers of pesticide exposure.  It always seemed naive to me to assume that spraying pesticides on the outside of our produce had no effect on the inside of it.  Now we have proof that at least soft skinned produce absorbs these dangerous chemicals and transfers those neurotoxins to us.

There is no better way to get your vitamins, minerals and antioxidants then by consuming fresh produce.  However, make sure you eat as organically as possible to avoid unnecessary pesticide exposure.

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Pesticides and your child’s health

I am going to take a one day break from my series on solving childhood obesity to mention this study that I just read about.  The study shows that children exposed to small amounts of pesticides have a significantly higher risk of developing ADHD.

In my last blog I spoke about controlling chemical exposures to limit obesity in children.  This study reveals yet another reason you should be wary of what goes in your child’s mouth.  The study looked at pesticides that are used on fruits and vegetables to improve the yield of a crop.  Sure, the pesticides work because they stop insect infestation but at what cost.

The pesticides are in a class of compounds called organophosphates.  These organophosphates are neurotoxins (toxic to the nervous system).  They act by inactivating an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase (A-see-tal-kole-in-es-ter-ace).  By inactivating this enzyme in an insect they die.  The problem?  Humans also need this enzyme to function.

In the human brain the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (A-see-tal-kole-een) is used for many things.  It is essential for learning and memory.  Acetylcholinesterase is also present in the brain.  It is designed to breakdown excess acetycholine.  By inactivating this key enzyme you may have too much neurotransmitter causing detrimental side effects.

This recent study isn’t the first to link organophosphates to ADHD, but it is the first to look at exposure to the general population.  Other studies have looked at farming communities and workers.

Researchers measured the levels of pesticide byproducts in the urine of 1,139 children from across the United States. Children with above-average levels of one common byproduct had roughly twice the odds of getting a diagnosis of ADHD, according to the study, which appears in the journal Pediatrics.

Where is the exposure coming from?  The EPA has banned most organophosphates from general lawn and garden use so the exposure is likely our fruit and vegetable supply.  That’s a scary thought because these are supposed to be our healthiest options.

Detectable levels of pesticides are present in a large number of fruits and vegetables sold in the U.S., according to a 2008 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture cited in the study. In a representative sample of produce tested by the agency, 28 percent of frozen blueberries, 20 percent of celery, and 25 percent of strawberries contained traces of one type of organophosphate. Other types of organophosphates were found in 27 percent of green beans, 17 percent of peaches, and 8 percent of broccoli.

Nearly 95% of the children studied had detectable levels of organophosphate metabolites in their urine.  The children with the most had the highest rates of ADHD.

I always encourage my patients to eat organic or at the very least buy local.  Organic is best because it ensures that there is very little, if any, pesticide residue on your fruit or vegetable.  Buying local is also good because studies have shown that local produce also has less pesticide on it.

In my practice I see children with ADHD very frequently and our first step is always to clean up the diet and go as organic as possible.  In general parents are receptive to this which is good.  Most of the time, however, they get very little support from their family doctor or their child’s pediatrician.  In general I find, pediatricians don’t believe diet or chemical exposure has anything to do with ADHD.  It’s nice to finally have a study that will be published in their own trade journal that proves it does matter what a child eats.

The authors of the study suggest washing and peeling fruits and vegetables before you eat them.  I agree with the washing advice but don’t suggest you peel anything.  The skins of fruits and veggies is where some of the best nutrients are.  They are important to consume.  My advice is to buy organic and still wash the fruit or vegetable.  This will significantly reduce your risk of consuming organophosphates.

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Solving Childhood Obesity – Part II – Chemical Exposures

In my last blog I spoke about the importance of breastfeeding a child in regards to reducing childhood obesity in this country.  That was the first part in a series of blogs I am writing to help get the word out about the new Let’s Move campaign.  I usually don’t see eye to eye with these kinds of campaigns but after reading the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity Report to the President I was pleasantly surprised with many of the ideas put forth.  They are very much in line with my philosophy on health care.  In this second part in my series we will be talking about chemical exposures and how it relates to obesity.

Chemicals and Obesity

The evolution of our children...

Chemicals are all around us.  They make our lives easier in some ways (think gasoline) but they also take a toll on human physiology.  Chemicals may mimic human hormones and cause problems in that way.  Chemicals that do this are known as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs).

These EDCs can cause problems in several ways.  They may promote obesity by increasing the number of fat cells, changing the amount of calories burned at rest, altering energy balance, and altering the body’s mechanisms for appetite and satiety.  Some also mimic human sex hormones such as estrogen which also alters metabolism.

Fetal and newborn exposure to these chemicals can cause more weight gain per unit of food gained and less weight expenditure per unit of exercise.  Over time this results in significant weight gain and all of the conditions associated with being overweight significantly increase.  The results these EDCs have on the fetus or young child appear to be permanent and persist well into adulthood.  According to scientists these chemicals change genetic expression and permanently alter metabolism.

Where are we getting these exposures?

Unfortunately, there are many sources of these chemicals.  Below I have listed some very common ones.

DDT – DDT is a chemical that was originally used as a pesticide to control mosquito populations.  It was synthesized during World War II as an alternative to an effective natural pesticide that was exported to the US from Japan.  It was studied very little but approved for civilian use after the war.  As early as 1946, the harmful effects of DDT on bird, beneficial insects, fish, and marine invertebrates were seen in the environment.  DDT has been found in the tissues of animals world wide and has even been found in the polar ice caps and the Himalayas.  This illustrates that it has spread to areas of the world where it was never directly applied.  DDT interferes with reproductive abilities suggesting that it alters human sex hormones and may play into obesity in that capacity.

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) –  PCBs are a class of chlorinated compounds used as industrial coolants and lubricants.  The health effects of PCB exposure have been known since the 1930’s and were seen in the workers who made the product.  Unlike DDT this chemical was not supposed to be applied directly to the environment.  Companies, however, were not responsible in the disposal of it.  Between 1952 and 1977, the New York GE plant had dumped more than 500,000 pounds of PCB waste into the Hudson River.  Again, toxic effects were seen very early on in workers producing the chemical but Monsanto (the largest producer of PCBs) downplayed health issues stemming from it in order to continue making money from its production.  Recent studies show the endocrine interference of PCBs is related to the liver and thyroid and increases childhood obesity in children exposed prenatally.  Additionally, it may increase the risk of developing diabetes.

Bisphenol A (BPA)I have previously written a blog about BPA. If you’re interested please read that as well.  BPA is a chemical that is used in plastic water bottles, the lining of cans, baby bottles, plastic food containers and dental materials.  It has been shown through many studies that even in low levels of exposure it increases the risk of diabetes, breast and prostate cancers, causes decreased sperm count, reproductive problems, early puberty, obesity, and neurological problems.  Fortunately, most responsible companies have stopped using it in their products but the total load of BPA in our environment is likely to remain very high because the breakdown of the products that contain it will continue for hundreds of years.

Phthalates – These are found in some soft toys, flooring, medical equipment, cosmetics and air fresheners.  The main area of concern for phthalates is the disruption of the male reproductive system.  Again, it likely alters sex hormones with can adversely affect metabolism.  Europe and California have banned its use in toys.

So What Can You Do To Protect Yourself  And Your Child?

  1. My advice to patients is always to live as naturally as possible.  Eat foods that are fresh so you can avoid the packaging that contains many of these chemicals.
  2. Don’t use artificial air fresheners.  They do make phthalate free air fresheners these days.
  3. Buy your baby’s toys from companies that are ecofriendly.  Those companies won’t use any of these chemicals.
  4. If you reheat your food or food for your children don’t do it in a plastic container.  Buy glass containers to store your food and use them to reheat your food.  Heating plastics increase the speed some of these chemicals break down.
  5. Use a glass baby bottle.
  6. Avoid generic fish oil.  They have been shown to have high levels of PCBs in them.  Always get your fish oil from a health professional.  (Check out our blog on PCB contamination of fish oil)

It isn’t possible to avoid all exposure.  After all DDT, while not used anymore, can be found even in the farthest reaches of the world.  The goal is to keep exposure to a minimum and keep your body as healthy as possible so it is adequately equipped to fight back.  That means eating healthy, exercising and avoiding unnecessary chemicals like cigarette smoke.  You should also take supplements known to have powerful antioxidant effects.  If you do this, you are providing as much protection as possible.

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