Dr Dingle's Blog / pharmaceutical
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in common household products cost hundreds of billions of dollars in health
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) found in common household products and our environment cost the USA economy $340 billion in added health costs and the European economy $217 billion.
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) contribute to disease and dysfunction and incur high associated costs. The disease costs of EDCs were much higher in the USA ($340 billion) than in Europe [( $217 billion). The difference was driven mainly by intelligence quotient (IQ) points loss and intellectual disability due to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (11 million IQ points lost and 43 000 cases costing $266 billion in the USA vs 873 000 IQ points lost and 3290 cases costing $12·6 billion in the European Union).
With annual costs being so high the researchers suggest the need for improved screening for chemical disruption to endocrine systems and proactive prevention. Exposure to chemicals in pesticides, toys, makeup, food packaging and detergents costs the U.S. more than $340 billion annually due to health care costs and lost wages. The chemicals, known as endocrine disruptors, impact how human hormones function and have been linked to a variety of health problems such as impaired brain development, lower IQs, behavior problems, infertility, birth defects, obesity and diabetes.
The researchers also looked at common chemicals such as bisphenol-A (BPA), used in polycarbonate plastics, food tin cans and receipts; and phthalates, found in food containers and cosmetics.
The authors of the study said their prediction is that the calculated costs to society will increase substantially once we get better documentation on ..additional substances and additional adverse effects.
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) are a group of symptoms and not a disease. Children are classified as ADD when they show signs of inattention, such as a lack of close attention to detail, difficulty in sustaining attention or are easily distracted. Some children may be underactive (hypoactive), inflexible, suffer from speech disorders and have poor short term memory, and show sleep and appetite changes. ADHD has the added signs of hyperactivity such as fidgeting, being always ‘on the go’, disruptive or demonstrate other signs of hyperactivity. While there are more precise definitions for these conditions, they are mostly subjective and open to a large amount of interpretation. ADD/ADHD are relatively new conditions and were probably defined as soon as a pharmaceutical company had a drug to use.
As more investigation is done on these disorders, more controversy is raised about possible origins and causes. It’s likely that ADD/ADHD occurs because of a complex of factors, including illnesses and a combination of susceptibility factors such as genetics, maternal diet during pregnancy and length of breast feeding. The child’s exposure to various chemicals in both food and the environment and their current diet are also probable contributing factors. Some chemicals and foods may act as a trigger for the disorder. Whatever the cause, it seems likely from the nature of the symptoms that ADD/ADHD has many contributing factors. No cases are identical, especially when dealing with children. ADD/ADHD however, is definitely not a deficiency of Ritalin or any other drug.
Surveys suggest that as many as 49 per cent of boys and 27 per cent of girls are described as inattentive by their teachers, while serious deficits in attention appear to occur in at least three to 10 per cent of school-age children, making inattention among the most prevalent of all childhood neuro-psychological disorders. Many of these children are diagnosed as having ADD/ADHD.
Many studies identify a worseing of symptoms with certain foods or food additives; others link lead contamination, smoking and alcohol in pregnancy to developmental disorders in children. The possibility of chemical substances in the diet and the environment influencing ADD/ADHD is highly likely.
Sadly, little real evaluation of ADD/ADHD children is actually carried out. They are not routinely evaluated for chemical, nutritional or allergic factors, or assessed for behavioural or environmental issues arising from their home environment. Instead they are given drugs. This is despite the fact that there is growing body of scientific literature showing significant nutritional deficiencies in many of these children. There is growing evidence that a significant number of ADD/ADHD sufferers have a high body burden of heavy metals, particularly lead, mercury, cadmium and possibly even the trace element copper. These metals are potent toxins which block thousands of important chemical reactions in the body and can play havoc with the nervous system. At even moderate concentrations, lead can lower a child’s IQ. Recent research links infant and maternal exposure to lead with higher rates of schizophrenia.
Nutritional deficiency is an underlying cause of ADD/ADHD in a significant number of children. Correcting these deficiencies and inbalances can make substantial improvements in childrens’ behaviour. Sometimes improvement is almost immediate.
The basic problem appears to be deficient levels of neurotransmitters (chemicals that coordinate many of the body’s and mind’s activities) in brain cells. Various chemical substances affect the transmission of messages across the synapse, the gap between individual nerve cells. Acetylcholine, adrenalin, noradrenaline, dopamine, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and serotonin are all examples of neurotransmitters. Some of these chemicals are responsible for other chemical secretions and uptake. They control muscular activity, mood and behaviour. So you can see how they might be involved in ADD/ADHD.
Over-prescription of drugs, (particularly the amphetamine Ritalin, one brand name for methyl phenidate) that manage the symptoms of the disorder, is common. In Western Australia the annual use of prescription amphetamine-like tablets prescribed for ADD/ADHD has exploded. There are many problems associated with taking these drugs. They include anorexia, weight loss, insomnia, lability of mood, nervousness and irritability, abdominal discomfort, excessive withdrawal symptoms, heart arrhythmias, palpitations and psychological dependence. Suicide is also a major complication of withdrawal from amphetamine-like drugs. Children on Ritalin are more prone to become addicted to smoking and illicit drugs. These drugs don’t deal with the underlying cause. The US National Institute of Health has concluded that there is no evidence that Ritalin brings about any long-term benefit in scholastic performance.
These drugs have a noradrenaline-like action. Noradrenaline normally acts to coordinate many nervous system functions. It’s thought to filter out unimportant stimuli, reducing the number of distractions sensed by the child. If ADD/ADHD is a noradrenaline shortage, it could be measured, but no one seems to want to do this. It’s much easier (and more profitable?) to prescribe drugs. If it’s a noradrenaline shortage, it can at least to some degree, be corrected by dietary measures.
There are many reasons as to why a child may have a poor nutrition. These include being breast-fed for only a short period of time. Infant milk formulas and cows’ milk are not the same as human milk. Cows’ milk is great for a calf that needs to put on weight directly after birth. A cow’s brain does not grow after birth. The human brain continues to grow substantially up to the age of three, and then more slowly, up to 18 years of age. It’s not surprising then, that human milk is high in Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) and choline, along with many other ingredients essential for the development of a healthy brain and nervous system. Both these nutrients are severely deficient in many infants’ and children’s diets, particularly if the diet is high in grains and processed foods.
One explanation for the higher rates of ADD/ADHD in males is that males have a higher demand for EFAs (Omega 3 oils). Males don’t appear to absorb them well and are less efficient at converting them to an important group of chemicals called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins regulate many activities in the body and play an essential part in others. Many of the foods that are linked with ADD/ADHD also inhibit the conversion of the EFAs to prostaglandins. Foods such as wheat, dairy and salicylate-containing foods, including some of the food colours. Conversion is also blocked by deficiencies in Vitamins B3, B6, C, biotin, zinc and magnesium. There are many studies now that show the benefit of supplementing the diet with fish oils and flax seed oil, not only for adults but for kids being treated with Ritalin. What’s also interesting about the EFAs is that many of our parents were dosed with them once or twice a week in the form of cod liver oil.
ADD/ADHD children appear to be deficient in a number of nutrients:
Essential fatty Acids (Omega 3 rich oils).
It may be that there is an absence of these nutrients in the diet. It may be the effects of medication, stress, and other lifestyle factors, including exposure to some environmental contaminants, that have lead to nutritional deficiencies. For example, the use of antibiotics has been shown to have an effect on the nutritional status of children, as they deplete the body’s levels of zinc, calcium, chromium and selenium. Antibiotics, other medication and food preservatives can also have a serious detrimental effect on the healthy gut bacteria which in turn affects the ability of the gut to absorb nutrients.
Academic performance and behavioural problems improve significantly when children are given optimal nutrition and nutritional supplements. In one study, supplementing with just 200 milligrams of magnesium for six months improved magnesium status and significantly reduced hyperactivity. Magnesium plays a key role in the production of noradrenaline. One of the main sources of magnesium in our diets is green vegetables, but few kids get enough of these. Other nutrients involved in the production of noradrenaline include manganese, iron, copper zinc, Vitamin C and Vitamin B6.
Noradrenaline formation may be affected by an absence of the amino acids L-phenylalanine or L-tyrosine, which are its building blocks. Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, Vitamin C, Folic acid and the minerals zinc, magnesium and copper are necessary for the conversion of phenylalanine and tyrosine to noradrenaline.
It has been proposed for many years that food additives and other food constituents can contribute to ADD/ADHD. While this is refuted by the food additive industry, there’s growing evidence that this is the case. It’s also becoming apparent that there are biochemical explanations as to why some foods and food additives, particularly the food colours, may be contributing factors. For example, salicylates inhibit the conversion of the EFAs to the protective prostaglandins, as mentioned earlier. Many foods that contain salicylates - tomatoes and granny smith apples, as well as aspirin and the food colours like tartrazine (102) - may exacerbate ADD/ADHD.
Food additives linked with ADD/ADHD can also deplete the body of vitamins and minerals. Tartrazine decreases blood levels of zinc and increases its excretion in the urine.
Food additives to avoid are
102, 107, 104, 110, 120, 122, 123, 124, 127, 129, 132, 133, 142, 151, 153, 155, 160b, 168, 173, 250, 251, 252, 282, 320, 321, 420, 421, 621 (MSG) 622, 624, 627,631, 635, 951 (Nutrasweet®, Aspartame®).
The diet of the pregnant and breast-feeding mother is very important. Infant and early childhood health conditions have a big role in the health of middle childhood. This is supported by research on alcohol exposure at various stages of pregnancy, hence the importance of good foetal and childhood nutrition.
What to do about food
For any child with ADD/ADHD it’s important to identify foods that may be causing a problem. This is best done with a professional such as a naturopath. or a doctor specialising in nutritional and environmental medicine. With these professionals you can devise an elimination diet to identify potential environmental and dietary culprits. Some of the culprits are shown below.
The main foods causing sensitivities and allergies include:
- Cow’s milk and associated dairy products;
- Some legumes – soybeans, peanuts;
- Nuts and seeds –pistachio nuts, cashews, macadamia nuts, cottonseed;
- Crustaceans – shellfish, shrimps;
- Fruits (non-citrus) – cherry, apple;
- Citrus Fruits – oranges, lemons, limes;
- Wheat and Other Grains – corn, rice, rye, oats, barley, buckwheat;
- Cola nut products – chocolate, cola;
- Spices – cinnamon, bay leaf, peppers, peppermint, oregano, sage, thyme, cumin;
- Food Additives – coal tar dyes, preservatives, flavour enhancers, artificial sweeteners; and,
- Caffeine – coffee, tea, chocolate, cola drinks.
The brain uses only glucose for energy. The research on sugar suggests that it may not be a major factor in ADD/ADHD. However, brain glucose that comes in waves of high highs and low lows is likely to affect a kid’s mood.
If I was ever to create a business that made a lot of money I would first of all create a product that did not solve the problem but treated the symptoms. So people would use it repeatedly, preferably for the rest of their lives. I would then educate all the important people in this industry with a huge marketing budget that this is the only way to fix the problem. I would also educate them with a massive campaign that anything else is useless maybe even dangerous, even if it’s not. We would effectively control all of the media and marketing with a huge budget. We would also ensure that people who work in this area are educated only by us and taught no other paradigm and if they started to learn on their own they would be criticised and chastised. In fact they would even be taught by us that any alternatives are dangerous, whether they are or not. As is any form of alternative thinking.
We would be in control of the information and research and would be the only ones allowed to provide this to government for registration so we would effectively have a monopoly. Finally I would get the government to support everything we do and we would ensure that we have very close ties with the government. We would be in control of the information and research and would be the only ones allowed to provide this for government registration even if it was very biased. We would also not be required to show any negative results unless they were explicitly asked for. Even then we would try and hide them.
This sounds a little bit like the pharmaceutical companies who research their own product to convince the government it is true so they have a very strong vested interest to make sure the results are positive. And of course many of these companies have been caught out, but not all of them yet. But even the ones caught out and where thousands of people may have died as a result the company still goes on selling other pharmaceutical products. It seems to be the only industry that you can kill and not only get away with it but stay in business and friends with the government. The people who work in the government regulating them regularly cross between industry and the government so if anyone in government wants to change jobs they are likely to go into industry and visa versa, another strong vested interest.
The vast majority of pharmaceutical drugs treat the symptoms of illness and not the illness. Cholesterol lowering drugs, for example may lower cholesterol but only have a minimal impact on lowering the risk of heart attack and stroke. But they do lower the cholesterol which is an indicator that there is a nutritional imbalance in the body. Cholesterol is only the messenger. By contrast, the right nutrition can lower cholesterol and reduced the risk of heart attack and stroke for the rest of your life. A much better indicator of heart attack and stroke is low levels of omega 3 fish oils in the blood and to solve the problem all you need to do is increase sure omega 3 oil consumption. Unfortunately, there is no money to be made in nutrition and according to modern medicine it may even be harmful. There are however thousands of scientific publications every single year published in reputable journals highlighting the benefits of nutrition for treating all forms of chronic illness. Unfortunately, this does not get out to the public.
The doctors who blatantly prescribed these drugs are educated by the pharmaceutical companies during their university years and after in practice. While their degree contains hundreds of hours of education on pharmaceuticals there is nothing or next to nothing on nutrition and lifestyle. Despite the fact that science, not medicine, shows the majority of chronic illness is caused by lifestyle and nutrition factors. How can the doctors know about nutrition if they are not taught it. The doctors, as well as the public are then informed that the only way to treat the illness is with pharmaceutical drugs. There is rarely ever a mention of nutrition to treat chronic illnesses. Some of these doctors and many of the scientists doing the research for the pharmaceutical companies also derive some direct and indirect benefit from the pharmaceutical companies. Any wonder some doctors prescribe a lot more pharmaceuticals than others.
All of these tactics reek of the tactics developed by the tobacco industry in the 1970s. Hopefully many of these pharmaceutical drugs that are over prescribed and have deadly side-effects will also go the same way as tobacco. Don’t get me wrong, there is a role for pharmaceutical support, but it comes after we have trained and educated all our medical staff about nutrition and lifestyle and the public are informed of the need for good nutrition in every meal and that there is no silver bullet.
An interesting dimension of pharmaceutical companies’ practices is that the same corrupt drug companies that reap money from drugs conduct the research, pay the researchers and control the research—including what is and is not published. Drug companies engage in censorship, bribery, corruption, fraud, suppression of negative studies and all varieties of unscrupulous tactics to sell their products; there are literally hundreds of studies that demonstrate this. At the simplest level, most medical research is financed by pharmaceutical companies seeking support for drugs that are either on the market or in development.
Recently, I wrote a couple of blogs that described the problems with the JUPITER study. The independent analysis of the same date showed no benefit and more importantly it bought into question the strong vested interests sponsoring the study. What was also neglected in the reports on the original JUPITER study was that it showed an increase in the risk of various side-effects including diabetes. But the biggest problem with the JUPITER study was the study itself. Most people assume that science is pure and there is not going to be any research bias. This is not the case and certainly not the case with JUPITER trial. First of all the exclusion criteria was very lengthy and contained common conditions including postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy, past or current use of lipid lowering therapy, diabetes, liver disease, uncontrolled hypertension, cancer within five years, hypothyroidism, recent history of alcohol or drug abuse or other medical condition that might compromise the successful completion of the study, inflammatory conditions including severe arthritis lupus or inflammatory bowel disease and so on. That means a lot of people, average people could not be included in the study and its selected specifically to achieve a specific outcome.
In an earlier study called the CORONA trial they looked the same drug over a period of 32.8 months and found while it significantly lowered LDL cholesterol, similar to those reported in the JUPITER trial, it performed no better than a placebo on the primary outcome, deaths from cardiovascular causes, non-fatal MI and non-fatal stroke. There was also no difference between the drug and placebo cardiovascular cause, or cause death, or any coronary events.
This was further compounded by the fact that the JUPITER study was supposed to go of 3-4 years however was terminated at 1.9 years while some of the results appeared positive. You can’t change a study half way through it just because you might show some positive results.
Of the last 50 years we have seen a decrease in saturated fat, salt and cholesterol levels yet we continue to see increases in cardiovascular disease. We are doing more than ever before but still the disease continues to increase. Fortunately there appears to be the decreases in deaths as a result of cardiovascular disease primarily due to the early intervention once someone has had a heart attack or stroke. Because we have been targeting at risk population we would expect to see a decrease in cardiovascular disease within a few years of any program yet more people have heart attacks and strokes than ever before.
Maybe the time has come to separate out all the vested interests and silver bullet solutions and deal with the problem. Already in previous articles I have described to you that cholesterol is not the killer it is just a messenger. It is like a warning light on the car. When the light comes on you can fix the problem before it gets any worse, or you can get some tape and cover it over. Unfortunately we have become very adept at covering our own personal health warning light.
The reason we have become so fixated with lowering cholesterol is that it is a multi-billion-dollar industry in Australia alone. The costs of the drugs to the public and individuals is estimated to be about $1.5 billion each year. Add on to that the cost of monitoring and all the blood checks, another billion dollars then you can understand why it is almost impossible to stop this juggernaut. There is just too much money invested in it. Then you also have two consider all the cholesterol lowering foods, the claims made and organisations involved and you realise that the total is probably closer to $10 billion each year.
The outcome we are after is the lowering of cardiovascular disease not cholesterol. If we have not succeeded at this then we need to go back to the drawing board and start again and not just reinvent another cholesterol theory or a new cholesterol-lowering drug. The last 30 years has been an abject failure that has cost a fortune in money and lives.