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Phthalates and their effect on human health

Phthalates are one of the most ubiquitous chemicals in our environment today. The effect of phthalates on human health has been the source of research for many years. What has surprised me over the years is the amount of denial from both the medical field and industry. In this blog post, I will link the reader to a number of studies on the effect of phthalates on human health. If you want to review the long list of studies on phthalates, you can click here.

Phthalates

The Phthalate Molecule

Part of the activity of phthalates is its depressing effect on testosterone. This may be why I’ve been approached by a number of universities asking why they are seeing young males between the ages of 18-25 having testosterone levels of 60-70 year old men. I thought it was likely due to exposure to phthalates and lo and behold, when a mid west university tested a number of boys, they indeed had high urinary phthalate levels.

The question that needs answering of course is, ‘where are they getting all of those phthalates?’ The answer that we came up with was a popular body spray that is marketed to young males which contains five  different forms of phthalates. The ads for the product tout how using it will attract women to the user but the problem is the males won’t know what to do when they get there.

Here are a few links to show the negative effect of phthalates.

There was a study published in my favorite journal, Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP), that suggested a link between breast cancer and phthalates, in particular, diethyl phthalate, in 2010. You can read it here

In the September 2012 issue of, data gathered from NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey), showed a link between urinary phthalate levels and diabetes in women. Click here to read the paper.

Allergy in adults has been linked to urinary phthalate levels in an October 2013 paper you can read by clicking here.

Phthalates effects on adults is considerable, but the issues it causes with children and developing fetuses is even more dramatic. In this study, published in October of 2011, phthalates were negatively implicated in mental and psychomotor development in infants, with the greatest impact on males.

May of 2014 was when a study showing a mothers exposure to phthalates linked to behavioral problems in young 6-10 year old boys.

Next time, I will link a few more studies implicating phthalates and other illness and negative health and behavioral outcomes.

Don’t forget to click on the library link above to see what books I’ve recommended.

 

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BPA Free – Another Con Job?

Bisphenol A, aka BPA, has been implicated as an endocrine disruptor (affecting organs like your thyroid). In response, consumers have demanded that it be removed from products they use like hard plastic bottles. Over the past few years we’ve seen lots of stickers on these products proudly announce that they are ‘BPA Free!!!’ Many out there were happy to see this change.

For anyone who has listened to my lectures recently should remember that I warned the audience that this was likely to be nothing more than a con job. Did industry remove BPA from these products? Of course they did, doing anything less would have been lying. Were they being entirely honest? Heck no. No more BPA meant using BPS and BPF both of which I said were going to be just as bad.

This week, the journal Environmental Health Perspectives released a pre-publication article saying that “Based on the current literature, BPS and BPF are as hormonally active as BPA, and have endocrine disrupting effects.” People in the plastics industry knew that these replacements for Bisphenol A were damaging to the endocrine system and if they claim they didn’t, then, frankly, they had their heads buried in the sand.

Critics of the position that toxicity from chemicals like BPA is not a major issue relating to human health are cut from the same cloth that claimed that cigarette smoking wasn’t a major cause of cancer. ‘Humans are not exposed to that much on a daily basis.’ goes the argument. Former Washington State governor, Dixie Lee Ray once said about the dangers of excessive radiation, “Everybody is exposed to radiation. A little bit more or a little bit less is of no consequence.” She even dismissed the negative health claims of the victims of the Hiroshima nuclear bomb. 

While this may seem over the top, it is the reality of what we as consumers face. Denial, delay, and slight of hand like the replacement of BPS and BPF for Bisphenol A. Instead of using BPA free plastic bottles, use glass or unlined metal containers. Your thyroid will thank you later.

Next time, I’ll continue the discussion on electrolytes and health.

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Sleep to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

A Normal Brain and an Alzheimer's One

A Normal Brain and an Alzheimer’s One

Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating disorder, not just to the person with it but the entire family of the afflicted. There is some good news on how to possibly prevent it and a new understanding of how sleep can affect it may lead to new treatments. So how does sleep affect Alzheimer’s? Turns out that sleep may help flush out toxins from the brain.

A recent paper published in Science magazine (October 18, 2013) suggested that one of the reasons sleep is so important is that during sleep, the brain and spinal cord fluid flushes the space between brain cells. The toxins and waste material is then sent to the liver for processing. The study, done on mice revealed this operation of what is known as the glymphatic system. The leader of the study, Dr. Maiken Nedergaard of Rochester Medical Center in New York said, “it was almost like you opened a faucet” when explaining what the researchers saw.

While awake, glial cells expand which reduces the space between brain cells and they contract during sleep to allow the fluid to rush in. This swelling and contraction changes the space about 60% between sleep and being awake. Numerous compounds build up in the brain during waking hours including amyloid-beta which has been implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. When you sleep, amyloid-beta decreases but no one understood what the mechanism was. It was thought that enzymes might have been the way amyloid-beta was decreased but now that may need to be reexamined.

Researchers like Dr. Randall Bateman at Washington University in St. Louis said, “I’d be a fool not to pay attention to this.” As was mentioned in an article in Science News (November 16, 2013), “Increasing the brain’s ability to rinse itself off may also prevent or combat Alzheimer’s and similar diseases…”

Whatever your preferred method of getting to sleep, it seems to be critical in preventing any number of neurological disorders as well as allowing you to achieve optimal health.

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The Plague and Heavy Metals

Talking about the plague and heavy metals may seem like a kind of odd subject to talk about but bear with me, it will be worth it. Just this past weekend I was a speaker at the Weston A. Price Foundation’s (WAPF) annual international conference where I heard a talk from the controversial doctor, Andrew Wakefield. He was the guest of honor and he made a very impassioned speech but there was one comment he made where I had an “ah ha” moment.

As some of you might know, Dr. Wakefield is the British gastroenterologist who made the claim that autistic children had inflamed guts, more so than the average child, and that there seems to be a correlation with the MMR vaccine. He has been vilified by the media and his own professional organizations despite having solid evidence to back his position. His talk at WAPF was passionate and information. Then he made a comment about the plague and heavy metals in the Siberian steppe. This picked my interest despite him only briefly commenting on it.

So why would this three second snippet get my attention? Simple, what he said was that researchers found the plague bacterium, Yersinia pestis, in marmots on the Russian steppe but only those who foraged on heavy metal laced grasses died of the disease. All of these members of the rodent family had the bacterium but only those with higher levels of heavy metals died of the plague.

This got me to thinking, how many diseases are dormant in our bodies waiting for a trigger to turn them virulent? And I’m not just talking about viruses, bacterium like the plague or parasites like toxoplasma gondii, but chronic diseases like type II diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or cancer. We get a load of toxins building up, like heavy metals or petrochemicals and when a critical mass is reached, bang, a disease begins to ravage us. This phenomenon can explain a lot of sudden onset disorders which come out of the blue.

My take on this is to not only be on the constant outlook for toxic exposure but to make it a lifestyle choice to always look to detoxify yourself regularly. Whether you follow the protocols of Dr. Andrew Cutler for heavy metal detox or use glycine and other amino acids for petrochemical removal, just do it and do it all the time.

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Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt

In this interview from October 15, 2008, Mark Schauss talks to Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt.

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Urine Organic Acid Testing – #2

Urine organic acid testing is essential for developing the best possible body composition, increasing fat loss and achieving optimal health. The test is considered a functional test as it reflects the nutritional needs of the body instead of just measuring levels of nutrients and co-factors. This allows it to take genetic, environmental and stress factors into account.

In my book, Achieving Victory Over a Toxic World, I dedicated a chapter to the issue of weight loss and how environmental toxins can effect the energy cycle (Kreb’s or Citric Acid Cycle). Much of our energy expenditure during a normal day is spent by our resting metabolism. As I mentioned in the previous blog on the environmental pollutants test, a block on the Pyruvate/Lactate entry point caused by the toxins can cause carbohydrate metabolism to be shunted towards fat production. The urine organic acid test can pinpoint this issue and using the Lab Assist report, you can develop a nutritional program to break the log jam.

What make the urine organic acid test so valuable is how it can pinpoint disruptions throughout the Citric Acid Cycle, and what can make the energy production more efficient. What I pointed out in my book, is if toxic chemicals depress the cycle by as little as seven percent, you can eat well, exercise regularly but still gain anywhere from ten to thirty pounds a year.

Other issues that can be picked up by a urine organic acid test that have big impact on health include markers for dysbiosis, specific B-complex nutrient deficiencies, excessive ammonia build up (improper detoxification of high protein intake), and much more. It can also see if specific amino acids are inadequate functionally as opposed to a direct measurement as done in a plasma amino acid panel.

In my classes on laboratory testing and the art and science of biochemical individuality, I highlight this test as it is one of the most vital tools available to anyone interested in helping their clients achieve optimal health.

 

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Environmental Pollutants – #3

Environmental pollutants testing is an absolute must if you want to achieve the best body composition and lose fat. This first morning urine test, using dry strip technology is easy to do and does not need overnight shipping. The test results and the ensuing detoxification protocols has done wonders for the many people who have run the test over the years.

The toxins that are tested for using the environmental pollutants panel are the following: benzene, toluene, xylene, trimethylbenzene, styrene, parabens and phthalates. While you may not be familiar with all of them, you should be as they are powerful hormone disruptors and can disrupt energy production causing increased insulin and fat production. In my book, Achieving Victory Over a Toxic World, I devoted a chapter on how these toxins can affect the citric acid cycle (aka Kreb’s cycle). By blocking the entry point to the cycle (lactate and pyruvate) carbohydrate metabolism is greatly affected leading to an inability to create energy and shunting carbohydrates towards fat production.

An important glandular issue that the environmental pollutants can affect is thyroid function. A normal mammalian reaction to being exposed to a toxin is to slow metabolism. The thyroid, being an important organ that regulates metabolism begins to slow down metabolism naturally in the presence of toxins. It is this process that makes me cringe when I see health care practitioners stimulate the thyroid before they deal with any toxicity issues. This is highly detrimental to the long term health of anyone undergoing thyroid hormone therapy. The body is trying to slow down metabolism to protect itself from the detoxification process. During phase I detox, the chemical produced are often times far more toxic than the original substance. If the individual’s phase II detoxification process is impaired, as it is with many people, than you have a more toxic situation than had you left things alone. This is why testing for environmental pollutants is critical along with a urinary organic acid test which I will review next.

I worked with a clinic once that focused primarily on thyroid issues and they ordered quite a number of the environmental pollutants tests but all of a sudden they stopped. I could not find out why until an ex-employee called me to tell me that they stopped the testing was because too many people were no longer hypothyroid. This caused the patients to stop buying their compounded thyroid medication which was a major source of revenue. Money over health in this case.

Another important reason why this test is so important is the testing for the presence of phthalates. This plasticizer, which is found in personal care products, air fresheners and body sprays is a known testosterone disruptor. I once received a call from a large university in the Midwest of the U.S., asking me why they keep seeing so many young men between the ages of 18-25 whose testosterone levels were that of 60 year olds. When we started testing them using the environmental pollutants panel from U.S. Biotek, the results were predictable. Almost every man with low testosterone had high levels of either phthalates or monoethyl phthalates. Detoxfication was able to reverse the low testosterone over a period of time.

One toxin that has to be detoxified carefully is benzene. This petrochemical found in diesel fuel is highly carcenogenic. If you have a dysbiotic gut and you do not deal with that first you run the risk of increasing the toxicity and carcenogenicity of benzene. Using the Lab Assist report will help to avoid that trap and give you carefully researched and safe detoxification protocols.

At my seminars, I carefully go over the nuances of this test as it pertains to achieving optimal health as well as better body composition and fat loss. If you are in Australia, the two classes are in Sydney on February 8-10, and in Melbourne on February 15-17, 2013. The next U.S. seminar will be in Lake Tahoe at the end of April, exact date to be announced soon.

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Pesticide Exposure and Health

In my blog about about Dr. Oz and his hypocritical statement that eating organic foods are elitist all the while he tells people to eat organic foods to avoid pesticide exposure, I’ve had a couple of comments that claim that pesticide exposure has never been shown to cause illness in people. The person also claimed that the journal Environmental Health Perspectives has no relevant studies showing what I claimed. I guess the person didn’t want to actually go to the journal’s website to verify his claim.

What made me smile this morning when I went to the journal’s website was the fact that the three papers of the year for 2012, per the editors of the journal are all on the subject of pesticide exposure on unborn children. As the editors said (you can see the references by clicking on the link), ” All three studies reported associations between prenatal OP pesticide exposures and adverse effects on cognitive function that continued into early childhood. The fact that three research groups reached such similar conclusions independently adds considerable support to the validity of the findings.”

Understand that association is not the same as causation, but if it smells like a fish, looks like a fish and tastes like a fish, chances are it is a fish. These are not the only studies that have reported associations between pesticide exposure from food and neurodevelopmental issues in children as well as many other health issues, there are hundreds. Does that mean we can stop research and claim that we have all the answers? Of course the answer is no. We need to have a better understanding on the mechanisms of how pesticide exposure affect health.

In this article posted this month by the editors of EHP, you can also read about their comment on the Stanford Study that dismissed the need to eat organic food. One issue they bring up is the epigenetic effect of low dose pesticide exposure on multiple generations. We are still finding new problems with pesticide exposure, not fewer.

Now, we could go on the merry go round of denial, which is something that BigAgra has been doing for years, but I won’t go their. They are using the exact same arguments (along with some of the same scientists) that Big Tobacco used to deny the link between smoking and cancer. We now know that there is a direct relationship. If you chose to deny that, well I guess you don’t need to come to this blog and waste your time. My goal with my blog is to give people information and resources that they can use to help themselves achieve optimal health.

 

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Toxic Dryer Sheets – What’s in Them?

Toxic chemicals have no place in anyone’s home but they are found in many peoples laundry room. Fabric softener sheets are one of the worst. According to Care2 here is a list of what is toxic chemicals are contained in a number of these fancifully named products:

  • Benzyl acetate: Linked to pancreatic cancer.
  • Benzyl Alcohol: Upper respiratory tract irritant.
  • Ethanol: On the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list and can cause central nervous system disorders.
  • Limonene: Suspected Gastrointestinal or Liver Toxicant, Immunotoxicant,
    Kidney Toxicant, Neurotoxicant,
    Respiratory Toxicant, and Skin or Sense Organ Toxicant.
  • A-Terpineol: Can cause respiratory problems, including fatal edema, and central nervous system damage.
  • Ethyl Acetate: A narcotic on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list.
  • Camphor: Causes central nervous system disorders.
  • Chloroform: Neurotoxic, anesthetic and carcinogenic.
  • Linalool: A narcotic that causes central nervous system disorders.
  • Pentane: A chemical known to be harmful if inhaled

Another chemical that supposedly comes out of dryer sheets is toluene which is a dangerous neurotoxin. Thanks to Dr. Peck for that tip.

Pretty scary eh? What purpose does a fabric softener really have? Dryer sheets actually accelerate the deterioration of clothes so why use them. Do you really need the smell and short-term softness? I hope not.

So what side-effects are associated with the chemicals above?

  • Central nervous system disorders
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Blood pressure reduction
  • Irritation to skin, mucus membranes and respiratory tract
  • Pancreatic cancer

Our society has put too much emphasis on smelling like some unnatural toxic flower which is highly detrimental to our health. Before you comment and tell me that I am an environmental nut, try reading some scientific research over at the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, the top peer-reviewed journal on the subject of health and toxicity.

Another toxic product in my opinion is the body spray/deodorant Axe. Marketed to teen males, it is a veritable chemical soup loaded with the testosterone lowering chemical phthalates. There is a large body of evidence to say that phthalates are hormone disruptors like this one. Basically, the teenage boys who use Axe may attract females but when the girls get there, the boys won’t know what to do. Instead of using products like this, go over to the Environmental Working Groups website, and check out their database – Skin Deep and find out what safe products are available in the personal care product market.

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Dr. Oz – Are You Kidding Me?

Recently, in a Time magazine editorial, TV personality and surgeon, Dr. Oz said that eating organic food is “elitist,” “snooty” and no better than conventional foods. He further went on to blather that buying organic food is for the “1%” and that “Organic food is great, it’s just not very democratic.” On top of that he put down buying your fruits and vegetables from farmers markets. Oz wrote, “Nutritionally speaking, there is little difference between the farmer’s-market bounty and the humble brick from the freezer case,”

Some have speculated that Dr. Oz has sold out to the big agribusiness/corporate food conglomerates who care more about making money than feeding us healthy food. Whatever the motivation for his inconceivable comments, they are flat out wrong. What makes his editorial even more ridiculous is that it contradicts information that is on his own website!!! Click here to read how important it is to eat organically from one of his writers.

There are a number of reasons why eating organic and locally are better for our health and for the environment. Organic food is five times less likely to have pesticide residue as conventionally grown food. The study from researchers at Stanford University published earlier this year, which Dr. Oz has blasted, said that this difference is inconsequential. I am here to tell you otherwise. While an occasional exposure to small amounts of pesticides aren’t that much of a problem (except to children), it isn’t just one or two exposures, it’s cumulative. You keep eating foods with a little bit of pesticides for a few decades and it isn’t just a little bit anymore, it’s a lot and that can cause major health problems.

Eating locally grown food is better for you as they are more likely to be fully ripe than commercially grown foods that can come from thousands of miles away. Shipping food from far away uses a lot more fuel than locally grown food. Taste is a big difference as well. Just take tomatoes for instance. A locally grown tomato can taste delicious like a tomato should. Much of what you find in your local grocery chain has no taste as they pick them green and spray chemicals on them to turn red. Sorry Dr. Oz, I don’t think that buying good tasting food makes me elitist.

On his own website, Dr. Oz tells us that “16 million IQ points lost in young children from organophosphates carries a price tag of more than $169 billion in lost productivity when they grow up.” And we should now disregard this because organic food is “elitist” and only for the “1%”? In my opinion, Dr. Oz has become a hypocrite of the highest nature and has some serious explaining to do.

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