Mumbai Mirror | Mar 12, 2013
By Altaf Patel
The contribution of environmental toxicity to human disease is horrendous. Mercury, for instance, is so toxic that Europe will soon disallow mercury thermometers and barometers. A link between mercury-containing vaccines and autism remains hotly-debated in medical circles.
Exposure to mercury can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease and dementia. The term Mad as a Hatter comes from the hat industry where the Milner or the hatter inhaled mercury (Hg) fumes and often turned crazy.
Consider also the cases of painters Van Gogh who cut off his ear lobe in 1888 and Monet who attempted suicide in 1867 and destroyed 500 of his classical works. Though they were considered eccentric in their day, both men suffered from depression. Could their symptoms be manifestations of metal toxicity because they worked with Pb and Hg pigment?
Amalgam fillings are another source of Hg toxicity. Dentists using amalgam often suffer from abnormalities of neurovisual tests consistent with Hg toxicity. Another source of toxicity is fish. One gram of Hg is sufficient to poison a 20-acre lake. Fish consumes the Hg in water and in turn poison humans. The surgeon general suggests that one limits consumption of fish to 2-3 servings per week.
Inhalation or eating lead have the same effects. It enters the body and bones and remains foras long as 20 years. Lead is responsible for an array of human diseases such as high BP, aggressiveness, criminality and intellectual backwardness. Large scale studies in school children in Nagpur and Karachi conducted by WHO documents intellectual backwardness in such children.
Aluminum (Al) is also a major cause for dementia. Please do not use aluminum vessels. There’s a reason why medication from abroad is dispensed in plastic containers and not Al foil, this is because of the fear of Al toxicity. Anti-persperants also contribute to Al toxicity.
The two diseases in today’s times that are rampant are cancers in the young and diabetes. As students of medicine we were taught that diabetes was a disease of the wealthy. In today’s times every third patient I see is diabetic. Several theories such as poor genetic makeup of the Indian abound.Though we are close to becoming the diabetic centre of the world fact is that it takes several decades if not more to change the genetic pool of a whole population.
What then is the contrition of environmental toxicities to diabetes?
A recent article by John Hopkins Research studied the arsenic levels in the urine in a group of diabetics and found it 26 per cent higher than control groups (where there is no instanc of diabetes). Earlier studies in Mexico and Bangladesh suggest that arsenic can be a cause of diabetes, leukemia, bladder cancers and congenital malformations.
Several years ago it was reported that 20 out of 1 lakh people suffer from gall ladder cancers along the Gangetic belt as compared to one or two people per lakh in Mumbai A report in the Nation also confirmed high levels of Cadmium (Cd), Lead (Pb) and Chromium (Cr) in the Gangetic belt adding that 12 -20 out of every one lakh people are exposed to carcinogenic pollution.
In 2009 February, a report stated that India has the highest instance of gall bladder cancers in the world, while an ICMR study of 2005 sates that gall bladder cancer in New Delhi is 10.6/lakh and gall bladder cancers are 8.5 times more common in north India as opposed to south India and corelation with heavy metal exposure causes concern.
Does exposure to particulate carcinogenic pollution in air cause us grief and disease? A recent JAMA article of 2012 reports a link between people exposed to ground zero after the world trade centre tragedy in New York and cancers of the prostrate , thyroid and multiple myeloma. Rescue workers had a 43% greater incidence of cancer of the prostrate. Although several other variables need to be worked out and this report must be considered preliminary, it is time to sit up and take notice of how our environment destroys our health.