by Dr. Jacqueline Chan
The Big Five Toxic Heavy Metals
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry lists arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury and aluminum among the top five of the 275 most hazardous substances in the environment.
Why do you want to know and what do you want to do about it? Many people are being silently poisoned. Our natural effortless biological systems dulled and beleaguered by an unseen, untasted toxic substance. When food goes off you can smell it. We throw sour milk down the drain and we throw moldy cheese or bread in the compost bin, but what if we don’t know that something as trustworthy as our tap water, food, and the air we breathe is laden with its own version of poison?
In my last article titled Wine and Lead Poisoning I went into depth about lead. This April we are offering our first ever GROUP CLEANSE. The introductory meeting is April 19th and we are so excited to offer you this! More details in another newsletter. CLEANSING once a year or even twice is the BEST way to get rid of toxins. Getting rid of toxins can feel crappy. If you can’t take a week or month off of work to do an intense cleanse at a spa, then this GROUP cleanse is a the one for you! It will give you support daily via e-mail, weekly by phone and in person twice with excellent products that only doctors have access to from Germany as well as USA that help with meal replacement, nutrient needs while cleansing and opening up the cellular pores at the most sophisticated level with the spagyrig remedies from Germany (more on that in the next newsletter). The best part is you can still work, parent, live your life. I’ve always done this cleanse while still working and seeing patients and I’ve taken evenings off but felt pretty much very good!
I’m not writing to make you paranoid. My closest friends would describe me as a tad bit naïve and overly trusting of most people and situations. If I worked in a farm, I’d probably be the kind of guy who toughs it out and doesn’t wear the protective gloves because I’m thinking my immune system is strong enough to handle anything toxic. Truth be told, that’s not what the statistics are telling us. In an article 2/23/2017 from Medical News Today by Hannah Nichols “Nearly 75% of all deaths I the U.S. are attributed to just 10 causes with the top three of these accounts for over 50% of deaths.” The top three diseases are: heart disease which is a whopping 23.4%, Cancer a very close second at 22.5% and Chronic Lung Disease at 5.6%.
You may be thinking, well I don’t have any of those diseases so I’m fine, but here are some other signs of heavy metal toxicity: numbness and tingling in the extremities, twitching of face and other muscles, tremors or shakes of hands, feet, head, jumpy, jittery, nervous, unexplained chest pains, tachycardia, unexplained rashes, excessive itching, bloated feeling, heartburn, constipation, frequent diarrhea, periods of depression, unexplained irritability, sudden unsolicited anger, difficulty making decisions, cold hand and feet, out of breath easily, headaches, frequent leg cramps, burning sensation on the tongue, frequent ringing or noise in the ears, frequent urination at night, unexplained fatigue, difficulty remembering things, poor word finding, joint pain, insomnia or fluid retention.
Let’s do a tour of the BIG FIVE:
- Arsenic is a known carcinogen of the lung, skin, liver, bladder and kidney. In 2001 the EPA increased the level of arsenic in our drinking water from 10 ppb to 50 ppb. Levels in our drinking water of 20 ppb add a 1/200 risk of bladder and lung cancer. The EPA states you are not supposed to allow anything in the water that is >1/1000 ppb. The average daily intake by adults in the USA is 11-14 mcg/day. Our meat, fish and poultry account for 80% of this amount. Outdoor wooden structures made of pressure treated wood have 90% arsenic in them. Arsenic from our backyard decks, swing sets, telephone poles and picnic tables stays in the soil for up to 15 years. One hand swipe on this wood the size of a five-year old child will cause enough arsenic to absorb through the skin as one glass of unfiltered arsenic-laden tap water.
- Cadmium is found in auto exhaust, cigarette smoke, shellfish, anchovies, kale and collard greens. A deficiency in key minerals such as iron, copper, zinc and calcium will increase cadmium absorption. Cadmium will stay in the kidneys for 10-30 years and is stored in the bone, pancreas, adrenal glands and placenta. Cadmium stored in the kidneys can impair the kidney’s ability to activate Vit. D for calcium absorption, resulting in osteoporosis. It can also contribute to heart disease and cause yellow teeth and anemia as well as autoimmune thyroid disease. Published in a prestigious British journal, the Lancet, a high level of cadmium in the body increased fracture rates in women. Cadmium toxicity also increases the risk of lung and prostate cancer and impairs the sense of smell.
- Lead found in old leaded paint, drinking water, polluted air, wine, welding, some fertilizers, industrial polluters, glazed pottery and newsprint. It primary targets the nervous system, kidneys, bones, and brain. It’s greatest risk is to infants, young children and pregnant women by causing fetal development issues, delayed growth, attention deficit disorder, learning disability and behavioral defects. Lead increases blood pressure according to a study published in Johns Hopkins in 2003.
- Mercury remains in the air for 2 years from coal burning plants, gold mining, chlorine manufacturing and combines with ozone becoming water-soluble Once water soluble, mercury infiltrates the environment in our rain and snow. Mercury is found in fish. A 60 kg person (roughly 120 pounds) should eat no more than 42 micrograms of mercury a week to stay within the current EPA guidelines. In a study in San Francisco of 199 fish 89% had mercury levels exceeding the recommended amounts. Mercury also comes from silver dental amalgams, which are made up of 50% mercury and they off gas in the mouth going up through the ethmoid bone of the skull at the top of the nose and enter the brain. This happens when we are chewing. Mercury is also in our ocean water and therefore in our seafood. The larger the fish, the more the mercury. Tuna and swordfish have the highest level of mercury but so do other fish such as sea bass and trout. Children with mercury toxicity can be sniffling, hyperactive, agitated and have staring spells. Mercury interferes with hormonal functioning and inhibits macrophages, damages sperm, can cause infertility, birth defects and cause hypertension and a rapid pulse.
- Aluminum is abundant in today’s environment and we get exposed to it mostly through antacids, antiperspirants, baking powder, canned beverages, canned foods, cookware, utensils, cosmetics, lipsticks as well as processed cheeses. Aluminum toxicity is absorbed through the skin, lungs and intestinal tract. It affects the bones causing osteoperosis, kidneys, stomach and brain. Research suggests that it may also contribute to Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, dementia and other neurological disorders.
What do you do about it? MEASURE, AVOID, DETOX
Let’s MEASURE your levels. Most people think of measuring heavy metals through a blood test. This is faulty thinking, however. Blood levels of mercury and lead for example, only persist for 3 months and then these heavy metals are stored in the bones, kidneys and other organs. That’s why my favorite way to detox from heavy metals is with a provoked urine test in which my patient takes a chelating agent and their heavy metal results are measured.
It’s not so expensive to have your metal levels checked. Roughly it’s $60 for the test. The chelating agent for the urine test may be an additional $30. Detoxification from heavy metals was covered in my previous article Wine and Lead Poisoning. The best way to detox from metals is to work with your doctor by making an appointment to discuss your lifestyle exposures, symptoms and order labs. Different agents are used to detox and different pathways depending on which metal is the biggest burden and what the body burden is. My training took 40 hours to get certified in heavy metal detox about 20 years ago!
To AVOID toxic heavy metals, you want to use purified water. You can get a report from your local water utility company: https://www.epa.gov/waterlabnetwork. You may choose to use a carbon filter for water, reverse osmosis or distilled water. To find a certified water filter system go to the National Sanitation Foundation: http://info.nsf.org/Certified/DWTU/
AVOID certain species of fish that contain high level so methyl mercury such as: shark, swordfish, tuna, king mackerel, tilefish, golden bass or golden snapper. Limit other fish servings to 12 ounces a week. Although the latest data are from 2012, for the exact mercury content of specific fish to:
Detoxing from metals was covered in my previous newsletter on Wine and Lead Poisoning. Briefly, it includes sweating through exercise or far-infrared sauna. Sweat carries metals and other toxins out of our body. Certain supplements can also help, such as: alpha-lipoic acid, cilantro, whey powder, and blue-green algae.
If you’re ready to get CLEANSED, call us and sign up for the GROUP CLEANSE: 415-945-3213 where we can put you on excellent products and guidance for a 10-day CLEANSE.
Last but not least take in the opposite of poison, which is the lovely perfumed air at this time of the year from the scent of blossoming Jasmin and the flowers that line our streets. This is WISE MEDICINE for the body mind, Dr. Jacqueline S. Chan, D.O.