Human Health Conditions Related to the Environment

Speaker: Dr. Chelsea SchreinerWritten by: Sheena Jain & Esha Jain

The nature versus nurture controversy has been argued for as long as we can remember. Even when it comes to our health and the reasons why we develop certain health conditions this discrepancy does not cease to exist. Although it is debatable as to whether genetics or the environment is the main source of the majority of our health conditions, studies have shown that both are equally responsible for many of the issues that we encounter.

Genetics aside, if we were to strictly isolate the environmental factors contributing to the detriment of our well-being, the manner in which external activity enters our bodies and affect us, raises additional concerns. If we outlined a simplified version of the overall process it would consist of the following:

  • Source Activities (i.e. industry/energy factories, transportation, domestic activities, waste management, agriculture, nature, radon, forest fires & volcanos etc.) →  EmissionsEnvironment (concentrated in air, water, food, soil) →  Exposure Dose, Absorbed dose, Target organ dose Health conditions (subclinical, morbidity, mortality)

The environmental sources become far more complex once we try to define how “toxic” the substances emitted into the atmosphere need to be and the amount of exposure time required in order for them to negatively impact us. Furthermore, many times we assume that we are only being exposed to 1 substance and fail to acknowledge the synergistic effects of the numerous toxins that coexist in the environment. We also seem to neglect the multisystem effects that these harmful agents have on our bodies. What is even more complicated is the fact that it is difficult to isolate the substances that we are being exposed to. Since we live in a global village where produce can be imported from across the ocean and transportation can travel from miles away, we are typically affected by the toxins emitted from across the globe. Just because certain practises release harmful agents in one side of the world, it does not mean that we are safe from its exposure. Lastly, if we were to revisit genetics for just a moment, the issue becomes even more multifaceted as genetic predisposition can cause some individuals to develop various health conditions at far lower amounts of toxin exposure compared to others.

What exactly is it about these chemicals that are so damaging to our bodies? Well, these agents commonly target our endocrine system, the powerhouse encompassing many of our fundamental hormones. The effect on one hormone can essentially be the beginning of a chain of events further impairing the function of far more hormones. For instance Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical commonly found in plastic material, epoxy resins and thermal paper receipts has estrogen mimicking affects, in particular it binds to estradiol receptors. This cannot only affect the reproductive system and mammary glands but it can also cause a decline in aldosterone and cortisol levels in addition to causing the thyroid to suffer by binding to body proteins.

The following describes additional hormonal effects of toxins that we are commonly exposed to:

Organ System Chemicals & Their Effects Tests Preventative Actions
Thyroid Polybrominated Biphenyl (PBBs): - Men: Thyroid CancerEstrogenic Chemicals (BPA, Methylparaben, Triclosan, PBDEs): - Disrupt thyroid hormone

  → (↑estrogen levels leads to ↓ thyroid hormone         levels) Heavy Metals: - Hypothyroidism (possibly even Hashimoto’s     Thyroiditis)   → Mercury can trigger Hashimoto’s Disease          because Mercury takes up iodine and therefore        the thyroid is unable to make any more thyroid        hormone  

- Thyroid Exam - Labs - Thyroid   Ultrasound - Blood  → Metal &         Chemicals        levels - Avoid Heavy Metals
Reproductive Flame Retardants (PBBs) - Fibroids, Endometriosis, Menstrual Irregularities - Women: Breast Cancer - Little Women: Precocious Puberty  → Young girls are exposed to chemicals longer          than they should be therefore they develop       breast budding and early menarcheDioxins [in PVC pipes & papermills] - Fibroids, Endometriosis, Menstrual Irregularities - Little Women: Precocious Puberty

Phthalates, Parabens & BPA - Fibroids, Endometriosis, Menstrual Irregularities - Little Women: Precocious Puberty - Breast Cancer, Uterine Cancer

- Saliva  (preferred)   or Blood    → Hormone          Levels    → Chemicals    → Genes    → Detox - Avoid  Plastics - Use safer   Plastics   (i.e. coded           2, 4, or 5) - Use plastic   Alternatives    → Glass    → Stainless         Steel
Respiratory Asthma

Inside: Dust                → Dust sticks to various chemicals from                        off-gassing                     (i.e. flame retardants)

Outside: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons                 [from coal, gas, tobacco and diesel                                  exhaust]

Toxic Trespass: Dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane(DDT), Benzene

- Blood  → IgE levels  → Chemical        levels - Avoid air   Filters - Wash   bedding &   clothing   regularly

 

Conditions Developed from Toxin Exposure Symptoms Test Preventative Actions
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity/

Environmental Illness

- Headache - Pain - Sensitivity to perfumes & certain      foods - Fatigue - Fainting/Dizzy Spells - Speech Abnormalities  → Change in        Rate, Rhythm & Volume - Behavioural changes   → Jittery   → All over the place- Impaired detox ability - Genetics - Detox   Chemicals - Avoidance
Electro-hypersensitivity Syndrome - Affects functions of electronics - Dizzy/Spacey spells - Vibration sensations - Pain - Affects Digestion & Hormones - Heavy Metal  levels  (in body) - Avoid Heavy  Metals  → do not use       heavy metal        spring beds - Turn off Wi-Fi
Cancers

(Causes: BRCA gene, PBBs, Parabens & Phthalates)

Cancers are a state of progression: 1) Energetic disturbance → 2) Functional disturbance → 3) Structural/physical disease →   4) Cancer- Symptoms are based on organ of   disease Prevention via: - Avoidance - Proper nutrition - Lifestyle  Modifications - Taking care of  emotional health

 

As demonstrated there are numerous conditions affiliated with the exposure of the countless toxins released into our atmosphere from our everyday activities. The best way to prevent these ailments from developing inside us personally is to take precautions to ensure that we make safer choices on a daily basis. Some of these practises include: ensuring adequate water and indoor air quality, quality food sourcing, using body care products that are free of harmful toxins, as well as preventing exposure to electromagnetic fields by turning off Wi-Fi and avoiding the use of heavy metal spring beds. Additionally, frequent testing of our genetic susceptibility, hormone levels within our saliva, as well as metal, toxic, and chemical levels within our blood cannot only give us a better idea of the harmful agents that already exist within our bodies but also allows us to manage them before they start becoming detrimental to our health. Routine detoxifications can remove these agents from our blood and tissues before they can accumulate and develop into a life threatening condition. Overall, as long as we remain aware and make a conscious effort to protect ourselves from what is preventable, we will be one step closer to keeping ourselves healthier within a toxin infested environment.   

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1)   What research exists regarding the correlation between mercury and the development of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis?

There is conflicting evidence available regarding the correlation between mercury and the development of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. A study conducted on 1352 females ages 16-49 demonstrated that low concentrations of methylmercury (the form of mercury typically found in fish) was associated with subclinical autoimmunity. It was concluded that the exposure of methylmercury could potentially be the reason behind the development of autoimmune disease later in life.

Another study found that mercury exposure was related to increased autoantibody levels and therefore presumed that mercury exposure was the source of autoimmune dysfunction.

Other reports have insinuated that mercury exposure was insufficient in being the sole cause of autoimmunity and that other elements needed to coexist. They suggested that factors such as increased intestinal permeability needed to be present in order for mercury to adequately generate an autoimmune response.

Although one study demonstrated no direct correlation between mercury amalgam fillings and the development of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, another report found a relationship in individuals with hypersensitivity to inorganic mercury. The study analyzed 39 autoimmune thyroiditis patients and discovered that those with mercury hypersensitivity, exhibited significant decreases in both their thyroid peroxidase (TPO) autoantibody and thyroglobulin antibody levels, after the removal of their mercury amalgams.

Additionally other research conducted has depicted a direct correlation between mercury exposure and the thyroid gland. Some studies have shown decreases in T3 and T4 levels due to mercury. There has also been evidence demonstrating that exposure to low concentrations of mercury vapour can directly affect the function of type I iodothyronine deiodinase, one of the enzymes necessary for thyroid hormone formation.  

2)      What are the effects of electromagnetic field exposure on infants and children?

In recent years, it has been found that cell phone use by pregnant women has been related to the development of hyperactivity and emotional issues in their children. This could potentially explain the current rise in children suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). One study found that school children in Switzerland experienced increased concentration problems, ADHD symptoms and a decline in academic performance after turning on nearby cell towers. Additionally, research conducted on the Skrunda radar station in Latvia in the 1990’s found that children in close proximities to the station demonstrated decreased levels of attention, memory and learning abilities in school.   

Other research findings have demonstrated a direct correlation between electromagnetic fields and the development of autism. One study conducted by Dietrich Klinghardt measured the amount of body voltage and microwave power density levels in pregnant women, depending on their sleeping locations. He then compared these levels in pregnant women who gave birth to healthy children versus those who later gave birth to autistic children. His findings concluded that pregnant women exposed to greater amounts of body voltage and microwave power density gave birth to autistic children. His reasoning behind these findings was that wireless radiation promoted the growth of molds and bio-toxins responsible for autism. Another analysis performed in 2007, implied that wireless technologies prevented the excretion of heavy metals, like mercury in autistic children.  It was further suggested that electromagnetic fields were responsible for potentially opening the blood brain barrier, increasing the concentration of toxins that permeated into the brain and enhanced their toxic effects. It was also proposed that by reducing glutathione levels, electromagnetic fields interfered with the body’s natural defenses, which was needed to combat toxin exposure. Finally, regarding the relationship between electromagnetic fields and autism it was hypothesized by Andrew Goldsworthy that microwaves played a role in disrupting the neuronal pruning process and were therefore responsible for causing autism. More recently, the Bioinitiative Report in 2012 provided addition information correlating microwave exposure and autism.  They illustrated additional theories regarding the manner in which electromagnetic fields caused autism. Some of these included: reducing glutathione levels and therefore increasing oxidative stress, interfering with calcium signalling, causing cell membrane peroxidation, affecting the blood brain barrier, disturbing immune function, being genotoxic, causing mitochondrial and melatonin dysfunction as well as causing damage to the brain cells.

Finally, a study conducted in Vernon, New Jersey discovered a rise in Down syndrome among children living in close proximities to satellite uplinks in microwave bands and in children of radar operators.

3)   What are some effects of electromagnetic field exposure seen in animals?

 

Animal Electromagnetic Field Effects
Monkeys - Behavioural Disturbances
Pigs - Miscarriages
Cows - Conjunctivitis

- Itching

- Reproductive Problems

  → Decreased Milk Production

- Behavioural Disturbances

  → Dancing/Weaving in stalls   → Tilting head away from transmission towers   → Nervousness & Disoriented

Horses - Behavioural Disturbances

   → Nervousness & Jumpy

   → Volatile Behaviour

- Loss of Balance

- Abnormal Gait - Increased infection

Birds - Abnormal Neuronal Firing

-  Abandoned nest sites near cell towers

  → Fewer eggs

  → Decreased population

     → due to a combination of cell tower collections & Electromagnetic                    waves interfering with navigation

- Lower productivity in nests

- Plumage deterioration

- Chick deformities - Partial Albinism

Bees - Abandoned Beehives

   → Nearby cell towers can interfere with their navigational skills

- Lower honeycomb weights

- Disorientation

- Impairs susceptibility to viruses, fungi and other microorganisms     → Increased sensitivity of bee’s NADH oxidase enzyme to

         electromagnetic fields which interferes with their nitrogen monoxide

         system and disrupts their:

         learning capabilities, olfactory orientation & immune systems

Insects & Worms - Heat shock responses in:

   → Soil nematode Caenorhabditis elegans    → Fruit flies

 

SOURCES:

1)    "Can Mercury Be A Trigger For Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Graves’ Disease?" Can Mercury Be A Trigger For Hashimoto's Thyroiditis and Graves' Disease? N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2016. (http://www.naturalendocrinesolutions.com/articles/can-mercury-be-a-trigger-for-hashimotos-thyroiditis-and-graves-disease/)

2)    "EMFWISE." Scientific Research on Wireless Health Effects. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2016. (http://www.emfwise.com/science_details.php#arrhythmia)

 

3)   "Hashimoto's Thyroiditis and Mercury Toxicity." Hashimoto's Disease. N.p., 03 Sept. 2016. Web. 30 Nov. 2016. (http://drhedberg.com/hashimotos-thyroiditis-and-mercury-toxicity/)