What You Are Not Noticing May Be Causing You Pain
By Dr. Greg Fors, DC, DIBCN
Defeat Autism Now! Doctor
We now live in a time different from all others in history. All humans now harbor measurable toxic substances or foreign chemicals in their tissues, whether they are organic farmers in Minnesota or Inuit’s up on the polar cap. It is sad to say that now even newborns are not exempt from this horror. A study spearheaded by the Environmental Working Group measured the chemical contamination of the blood from the umbilical cord of newborns. In that study, they tested for 413 different toxic chemicals; they found 287 chemicals present in umbilical cord blood samples, with a range between 154 to 231 chemicals per child. These 287 chemicals found within the blood of newborns do have serious ramifications; 217 of the chemicals are known toxins to the brain and nervous system, 208 of the chemicals will cause developmental problems in children, and 180 of these chemicals cause cancer in humans or animals . This horrendous legacy that we leave your children through your addiction to “better living through chemistry” must be soberly examined and action taken as a society if we hope to be truly healthy ourselves. It is also why we must stop looking for some magic in a drug, salve or supplement to get us out of your pain. The healing of our pain is connected now to the healing of this earth!
How We Become Polluted
From the moment you awaken until you are tucked safely back into your bed, you are exposed to some of the most harmful chemicals in use today. Your mattress may contain flame-retardant PBDEs that are known to cause cancer and may disrupt hormone function. There are also flame-retardant PBDEs in the carpets and curtains of your bedroom. If your bed sheets or clothes you put on that morning are wrinkle resistant, they have been treated with formaldehyde, another chemical that is known to cause cancer and possibly many other illnesses, such as those involving the respiratory system. The wood products your bedroom furniture is made from also emits the same formaldehyde. There is no safe level of human exposure. Some environmental groups call formaldehyde one of the most dangerous compounds to ecosystems and human health.
Once you reach the kitchen for breakfast, there are more sources of toxic chemical exposure to navigate. For example, the food you eat may contain the toxic chemical Bisphenol-A if your food came in contact with any plastic, such as food wrap or the plastic lining of canned food. Bisphenol-A has been shown to cause reproductive damage and birth defects, and lead to prostate and breast cancer in adulthood . In a study published in January 2006, it was discovered that the endocrine-disrupting chemical Bisphenol-A causes insulin resistance in mammals . Insulin resistance causes increased chronic inflammation in muscle tissue, leading to the development of chronic pain disorders, besides being the precursor to diabetes and all its health consequences.
The breakfast you ingest will have low doses of toxic metals, pesticides, and other persistent organic pollutants. If however you eat a completely organic diet, it will definitely help to reduce your exposure to pesticides and herbicides. But because toxic metals and persistent organic pollutants are found throughout the environment, all the foods you eat contain some of these contaminants, no matter where they are grown. As much as 94–99% of your intake of persistent chemical pollutants, such as PCBs, comes through food, so eating only organic foods and beverages can definitely lower your exposure.
Stepping into the bathroom, you are flooded by an overwhelming number of toxic chemicals, especially through your personal care products. There are some 4,000 different petroleum-based chemicals, called simply “fragrances,” in our personal care products that have been proven to affect your central nervous system, trigger asthma, and cause cancer. In addition to this, phthalates are used in these synthetic fragrances to extend your scent’s staying power. Recent research has shown that these phthalates disrupt your hormones and can cause birth defects in male reproductive organs. These toxic phthalates are very persistent in our environment and have been found in everything from household dust to drinking water, meat, and dairy products, as well as the blood and milk of humans.
These multiple various toxic chemicals in your environment—in our water, air, and soil—are absorbed into your body through your lungs, skin, and digestive system. Chemical pollutants that are carried in our air are absorbed not just through our lungs, but also through skin contact. Dust in our houses or workplaces can be a significant carrier for toxic chemicals. One study found that household dust contains significant levels of chemicals such as phthalates, bromated flame-retardants, and other toxins . By the time you slip back into your wrinkle-resistant sheets on your flame-retardant mattress at the end of the day, you have been exposed at low levels to hundreds of different toxic chemicals.
In fact, by the time the average woman steps out of her house in the morning, she has exposed herself to more than 126 different toxic chemicals through her personal care and beauty products. Furthermore, these are commonly used beauty products may be directly contributing to our suffering from chronic pain. A long-term controlled trial of forty-eight women who suffer with fibromyalgia syndrome found that their symptoms were significantly decreased when they reduced the use of cosmetics. After two years, the experimental group that reduced their cosmetic exposure had a significant improvement in their pain, sleep, and stiffness. The women reported that they had better physical function and improved well-being . This study is not saying that fibromyalgia is caused by cosmetics, but the chemicals they contain will increase oxidative stress and systemic inflammation that leads to myofascial pain.
We all live in an environment that now contains toxic chemicals, and many times we over burden on liver with medications, drugs, smoking, or excessive alcohol consumption. Therefore, we are constantly overburdening our liver’s ability to remove chemical toxins from our body. We can also over burden the liver when we have unhealthy bacteria and/or fungus in our gastrointestinal tract, a condition known as dysbiosis. Dysbiosis can lead to the release of endotoxins into your body and thereby overwhelm your liver. This condition will then lead to a liver that is overtaxed and unable to keep up, allowing more toxic chemicals from environmental sources to more readily accumulate in your tissues and cause more pain and health problems.
Whatever their source when these toxic substances accumulate in your tissues, they act as free radicals. This creates oxidative stress which activates a low-grade inflammatory response in your tissues and muscles. Byproducts from this low-grade inflammatory process will act as free radicals, creating more oxidative stress. Therefore, this oxidative stress and the low-grade inflammation it creates can cause a feed-forward cycle. This vicious cycle of oxidative stress and low-grade chronic inflammation not only stimulates pain receptors but can eventually affect your cells’ ability to produce adequate energy in tissues. If this takes place in your muscles, they will become painful, stiff, and easily fatigued, partly through the formation of pain-causing myofascial trigger points. This is how toxins from the environment and those produced inside of you, can leads to the common symptoms chronic pain and fatigue.
Forewarned Is For Armed-Educate Yourself!
For individuals who want more information on the connection between low-level toxic chemical exposure and health problems, I highly recommend that you review the work of Dr. Theo Colborn Professor at the University of Florida. Her research can be found at http://www.ourstolenfuture.org/ In addition, I recommend the research by Iris R. Bell at the University of Arizona. Much of her research on the health effects of low level chemical exposure can be found online at www.mcscanadian.org/res_bell.html.
The next step is yours; based on this information you may want to
begin the process of aggressively removing chemicals from your
environment. Utilizing only natural green household and personal care
products is vital along with eating as organic as you possibly can. The
more the consumer demands these products generally the more available
and less expensive they will become good for us and good for our Earth!
In a future article I hope to explore the role that cellular
detoxification based on your genetics plays in the development of
chronic pain health problems from low-grade chemical exposure. In that
article we will then examine how you can enhance your ability to handle
chemicals in your environment through specific nutraceutical therapies.
For those looking for information on this issue right now I recommend my
book “Why We Hurt” specifically chapters 7 and 17.
You can find this complete study, and many other studies of
the toxic burden we modern humans carry
in our tissues, by going to http://archive.ewg.org/reports/bodyburden2/
www.environmentaldefense.ca/: Toxic nation: a report on pollution (2005)
A. Paloma et al., “The estrogenic effect of bisphenol-A disrupts pancreatic beta cell function in vivo and
induces insulin resistance,” Environ Health Perspect 114 (2006): 106–12
Greenpeace Research Laboratories, “Consuming chemicals: hazardous chemicals in house dust as an indicator of chemical exposure in the house,” (May 2003), http://eu.greenpeace.org/downloads/chem/.
B. Sverdrup, “Use less cosmetics, suffer less fibromyalgia?” J Women’s Health 13, no. 2 (March 2004): 187–94
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