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Toxins In Everyday Life and The Connection to
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By Andrew H. Jardine,
Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

Last updated August 15, 2017 (originally published September 10, 2008)

Toxins, meaning substances that at high enough levels are poisonous to
our bodies, exist in many every day foods and products.

Take your breakfast meal for example.  If you eat a simple breakfast of
cereal with milk and fruit, you are likely to be exposed to more than 25
toxins.  If you eat a breakfast of bacon or sausage and eggs, you are likely
to be exposed to more than 57 toxins.  Or, take something even simpler, a
breakfast of coffee and a pastry. No toxins, right? Wrong. Even that simple
breakfast can expose you to more than 10 toxins.  How can that be?

Before we get to the answer, let's complicate the question a bit more. Let's
start your day earlier, before breakfast. Say you get out of bed, take your
shower, wash your hair, put on deodorant, maybe a splash of perfume or
cologne.  By the time you finish toweling off, you have been exposed to 45

In fact, if we follow you through a normal day in the US or Europe, and
have you do nothing more "industrial" than simply eat 3 meals and get to
work and back, you are likely to have been exposed to over 450 toxins.

Many of these toxins are present even in newborns . One study in 2004
randomly tested the discarded umbilical cords of newborn infants in the US
and found 187 known carcinogens, 217 known neurotoxins and 208
substances known to cause birth defects.

Other studies have confirmed the same. A 2009 study from the
Environmental Working Group tested the umbilical cords of 10 minority
infants discovered over 200 chemicals in these newborns, including BPA, a
hormone disruptor.

The Body Burden of Chemicals

Because toxins and contaminants can be either water-soluble or
fat-soluble, these toxins can hide in the fat tissues of the body for a
lifetime.  Over a lifetime, the "bio-accumulation " of toxins can reach or
exceed recommended levels for safety established by the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control.   Scientists refer to this steady accumulation of toxins over
your lifetime as the "body burden of chemicals".

Many people are not waiting on solutions. They are changing their diets,
their homes and in some cases their lives in an effort to cleanses their
bodies of accumulated toxins. More people are buying organic foods and
living as far off "the grid" as possible in an effort to detoxify their lives.

Detoxification involves eliminating foods and products with known toxins
from your day to reduce your body burden of chemicals.  Elimination diets
are followed until symptoms of toxicity subside or for a lifetime as a
healthier lifestyle choice for some.  

The toxicity found in newborns suggests that the bio-accumulation of
mothers is passed down to some degree to children through breast milk.
We then accumulate our own share of toxic load over own lifetimes and
pass on an ever greater accumulated load to the next generation.

The generational build up of toxic load, some researchers have begun to
suspect, may be responsible for the puzzling increase in diseases in our
generation such as autism, Alzheimers's, cancer, diabetes Type I (the type
caused when the body destroys its own ability to make insulin) and the rise
in digestive irritability and allergies.

Now, the big question --how can this be? How in the world can it be that
we have become so loaded in our daily lives with toxins?

Researchers have examined the amount the toxins an average person
carries in their bodies --the so-called "body burden of chemical" or as I like
to say the "toxic load".  Their results are surprising.

"We are contaminated daily by unregulated chemicals of unknown toxicity",
said Dr. Conrad G. Maulfair in his Presentation Abstract at the Third
International Conference on Chemical Contamination and Human
Detoxification" at Hunter College, New York in 2005.

Toxins include new strains of genes which have learned to colonize
bacteria which live in uncooked and ground up meat such as the Shiga
gene found in E. Coli.  

Other toxins are found in dairy including polychlorinated bipehyls (PCBs),
man-made compounds used since the 1930's in a variety of items including
electrical equipment and polyvinyl chloride (PVCs) found in toys, food
packaging (plastic bottles and plastic coverings) and medical products.  

PVCs are harmless until they are burned in waste incinerators, at which
time they release "dioxins".  Dioxins are extremely long-lasting.  They
remain in the soil and air for generations.  Once they are in the soil, dioxins
can be absorbed by vegetables grown in the soil, and reach your body
when you eat these vegetables. Dioxins have been banned in Sweden,
Denmark and Germany for this reason.

The body burden of chemicals you carry around affects  a range of
diseases.  The incidence of a range of cancers, and in particular
breast and
lung cancer, has been linked to exposure to toxins. Toxic load and body
burden of chemicals has also been linked to climbing rates of autism,
dementia, irritable bowel syndrome, food allergies and Alzheimer's.  

One 2002 research study lead by Dr. Veronica Parker of Clemson University
even found a possible link between Diabetes Type I  and levels of
environmental toxicity environment.

Worldwide cancer rates have been tracked for 30 years by the
International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon France and more
recently by the World Health Organization.  The most recent Global Cancer
Study was completed in 2002 and published in 2005 by the American
Cancer Society , among others.

Here are the results, which we have arranged in a table showing the
countries with the highest incidences of cancer first:

Let's take a look at the results. The highest rates of cancer in the world are
found in the US in particular, North America in general, Europe, which
includes Eastern European countries, and China.  The lowest incidences of
cancer are found in Africa, Japan and Oceana (countries in the South

Comparing the highest to the lowest cancer incidence rates is striking.

A person living in the US has
14 times greater risk of getting cancer than a
person living in one of the islands of the Pacific.  

A person living in the US has a
3 times greater risk of getting cancer than a
person living in Japan.

A person in China has a
3 times higher risk of dying from cancer than a
person in India or the United States and a
4 times higher risk of dying
from cancer
than a person in Japan.

As the report's lead scientist, Dr. Max Parkin, notes, when it comes to
cancer risk, your address matters. "Most of the international variation is
due to exposure to known or suspected risk factors related to lifestyle or

Here is a small list of the toxins you touch with your hands, skin or which
have been found in the food supply in the US and Europe:

Bisphenol-A . Found in metal containers such as food cans and plastic
feeding and drinking bottles.  Think -- it's in the bottle of designer water in
your refrigerator. Or the plastic jug of milk.  Think --it's in the can of tuna
fish used to make your lunch.

More than six billion pounds of bisphenol-A are produced each year.  95%
of Americans tested by the Centers for Disease Control now excrete it in
their urine.  That bears repeating: we have all been so thoroughly exposed
to the toxin bisphenol-A that almost all of us are
excreting this toxin from
our urine

In laboratory studies, bisphenol-A alters egg development in exposed
fetuses and increases the risk of genetic damage in the next generation,
thus providing evidence for multi-generational effects.  In laboratory
animals exposure profoundly affects the male reproductive system, with
adverse changes to the testes, testosterone and sperm production.  

Bisphenol-A increases prostate and breast cancer risk, alters brain
development, and causes earlier puberty and obesity. Researchers found
that women with a history of recurrent miscarriage had higher blood serum
levels of bisphenol-A than women with successful pregnancies.

Pthalates.  Found in all kinds of plastics such as dry-cleaning plastic
bags, household paints, nail polish, glues, furniture strippers, petrol
fumes.  Think-- your shower curtain.  Think-- that cute red nail polish.  
Think--that lovely slate colored paint. Think-- the 2 suits you are picking up
from the dry cleaners.  These are organic chemicals found in plastics, and
have been found to have a disruptive effect on the endocrine (hormonal)
systems of men and women.

Polybrominated diphenyly ethers (PBDEs). Found in flame-retardants
used in televisions and couches, associated with changes in male genitalia,
undescended testicals and other abnormalities.

4. Animal vaccines, pesticides, antibodies, arsenic and dioxins. Found in
meat, dairy and many vegetables in the food supply.

Polyvinyl chlorides (PVC, a form of pthalates).  Found in vinyl shower
curtains, fragrances, pill coatings.

What should you take away from all this? Take away this fact: we are
exposed to bisphenol A in the packaging of so many of our foods that we
are excreting it in our urine. Every day --every single day --you should
strive to avoid plastic containers, and use glass instead.  You should always
carefully and thoroughly wash any vegetables and fruit you eat, to at least
reduce the amount of surface fertilizers and toxins that may have made it
through the food chain.

Related Links:

Ten Simple Ways to Detox Your Life
Sugar--The Disease Connection
Inflammation and its Role in Disease
Bowel Color--What It Tells You About Your Health
How to Boost Your Immune System
Tuna Mercury Levels--Use the Tuna Calculator
Country or Region
Incidence (new
US and North
19.9 to 21.1
8.4 to 9.4
13.2 to 14.4
Oceana (island
states of the Pacific
such as Micronesia,
Melanesia and

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