You eat well, you exercise consistently, you don’t let stress destroy your life. But what if you’re missing something critical; something that you are exposed to day in and day out that increase your risk of cancer, diabetes, obesity and neurodegenerative disorders?
Toxicity in the World around You
The EPA has over 70,000 (2001 numbers) chemicals registered for use in the United States. Only a very small number of these have ever been tested for exposure dangers to humans. Pretty scary when you think about it.
To make matters more complicated, when compounds like bisphenol A (BPA) are investigated by the EPA, it takes decades for the real answers to come out. As you’ll find out later in this article, BPA health risks were denied for years, until after they could no longer deny the weight of the research on BPA toxic effects on humans. But by then, the EPA stated that, while BPA does have documented negative health effects on humans, the compound was too commonly found in our lifestyles to really do anything about it.
#1 Toxic Chemical: BisPhenol A (BPA) Health Risks
Plastics. Few things have changed the way we live our lives like plastic has done. There is probably not an aspect of your life that is not in some way connected to plastic. Some of these forms of plastics are pretty benign. I can’t really imagine the plastic in your suitcase creating much problems. Unless you decide to have it for lunch.
But to make plastics clear, we need to add a class of compounds to the plastic called bisphenols. The most common of these has been bisphenol A, or BPA. Over the years, BPA side effects have been linked to an increasing amount of health concerns, but there are a few that top the list.
BPA Health Risks: Breast Cancer
BPA most notorious side effect is on hormone levels. Because of its structure, it has an estrogen like effect in the human body. Since excess or mutated estrogen plays a role in hormonal-related cancers, the link certainly makes sense.
As you’ll see below, BPA plays a role in the development of obesity and diabetes. This is another way that this plastic chemical can contribute to breast cancer indirectly.
Unfortunately, aspects like this are almost never discussed with women who have a family history of hormonal cancers nor with women who have been diagnosed and treated for breast cancer, despite the fact that BPA side effects are a strong player in both the development of breast cancer and survival from breast cancer.
BPA Health Risks: Diabetes and Obesity
It has been calculated that the same amount of caloric intake and exercise done in the 1980s would be linked to something like 10 extra pounds in today’s day and age. This means that there is something else we are being exposed to that, despite the same amount of exercise and calories, is putting more weight on us and increasing the risk of obesity and diabetes.
BPA side effects are one of the front runners for the blame and has been established in multiple studies. As some examples:
- One study looked at the urine BPA levels of children aged 9-19 and found that those with the highest levels of BPA had a 22% greater risk of being classified as having childhood obesity than the kids with the lowest levels.
- In a theoretical study looking at the links between chemical exposure and chronic disease, researchers concluded that prenatal bisphenol A exposure had a 20% to 69% chance of causing 42,400 cases of childhood obesity with associated lifetime costs of $2.16 billion.
Sources of Exposure to BPA
As the EPA put it, BPA is everywhere. You are certainly aware of BPA in plastic water bottles. It’s hard to not be—within the past decade the water bottle industry has made it a crusade to come up with BPA free water bottles and BPA free infant products.
But besides plastic water bottles (both reusable and disposable), there are MANY other sources of exposure that you need to be aware of:
- Thermal register receipts are coated with BPA
- Many flame retardants are made from of BPA, and flame retardants are in EVERYTHING ( this means bedding, mattress, clothing, drapes and yes–your couch)
- Almost all canned goods have the inside lined with BPA to keep the food items from rusting the can lining.
- Soda cans are lined with BPA. In the thermal register receipt study above, one participant had 27 TIMES the levels of BPA in his system after drinking just 4 cans of soda
And just in case you thought that going BPA-free was the answer, many of the manufacturers who have moved to “BPA free” plastics are still using bisphenol, just not the “A” type. The problem with this is that other commonly used forms of bisphenol have the same health risks as BPA.
And even if the products are truly bisphenol free, there are plenty of other toxic compounds used in these products that contribute to the same diseases that BPA does.
A group of researchers looked across 32 studies found that these BPA substitutes were just as risky and had the same BPA health effects (estrogenic, antiestrogenic, androgenic, and antiandrogenic).
In other words, “BPA free” does not mean that it is safe for you. As family, we avoid bottled water unless death from dehydration is eminent. Our refillable water bottles are either glass or stainless steel. I handle thermal register receipts like they are coated in Ebola.
Given the fact that BPA is in just about everything you come in contact with, the best you can do is be aware of you and your families’ exposures and limit them.
Health Effects of Pesticides
Much like the BPA health risks that we just covered, pesticides are almost impossible to escape. Even going organic may reduce your exposure but will not entirely eliminate it. DDT was an insecticide used heavily across the US, was banned in the 1970s. Despite decades since it has been banned, derivatives of DDT are still present in the blood of just about everyone in America.
One would think that chemicals used in our food would be studied for safety. Think again. In an ironic twist, the safety of most pesticides used in agriculture is determined by the pesticide manufacturers themselves.
But it’s reality. To determine “safe” levels of pesticides for us to be exposed to, the manufacturers determine what an average amount of pesticides would be for someone eating the foods that the pesticides are used on. That’s the safe level. Has nothing to do with whether or not these levels are safe, but rather how much you would be expected to be exposed to. Ugh.
So what? Do pesticides really contribute to human diseases? You bet.
Health Effects of Pesticides: Childhood non-Hodgkin’s Cancer
The list of problems associated with pesticide exposures is quite lengthy, but there are a couple of scary ones that are on the top of the list.
There is little doubt that cancer in children heads up the list. When it comes to cancer, I firmly believe that genetic factors play a much smaller role than environmental factors. Many infant and childhood cancers have been related back to chemical exposures in the womb or early childhood.
In an older issue of the journal Cancer, researchers found strong links between non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and exposure to pesticides while in the womb. In homes where pesticide use was common (used on most days of the week) during pregnancy, there was a whopping 730% higher rate of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The use of professional exterminators also increased the risk 300%. The risk of exposure after birth was not as high, but still at a scary 240% higher risk.
I know that, in our household, we never use pesticides, with the exception of black widows who hide out where I can’t step on them (I DO live in AZ, after all…). This happens only a couple of times a year. I’ve used duct tape for ant infections while using grits on the ant hill itself. I have no qualms about using a shoe to manage roaches in my home. This is a far better option then exposed my family to toxic chemicals shown to increase cancer rates.
Health Effects of Pesticides: Childhood Leukemia
Just like pesticides, insecticides are used everywhere in Westernized societies. It seems like everyone who can afford to has his or her home sprayed for bugs.
Probably one of the most disturbing studies looking at the health effects of pesticides took a look at the links between insecticide use and the risk of childhood leukemia:
- Indoor household insecticide use was led to a 47% higher risk of childhood leukemia and a 43% higher risk of lymphoma.
- When both indoor insecticide exposure and professional home treatment exposure was present, this risk jumped to 204% higher.
- The overall risk for all childhood cancer from indoor pesticide exposure in general was increased 40%.
Health Effects of Pesticides: Birth Defects and Miscarriages
One of the most dangerous time periods during pregnancy for the developing baby is 3 to 8 weeks–sometimes this is before a woman even knows she is pregnant.
A study back in 2001 looked at almost 700 women living in California to evaluate links between pesticide exposures and pregnancy outcomes. They found that there was a 40% to 120% higher risk of a pregnancy loss when mothers lived near crops where certain pesticides were sprayed. The risk was highest among pregnant women who lived in the same square mile where pesticides were used.
Health Effects of Pesticides: Dioxins and Your Microbiome
One particular nasty class of environmental chemicals are the dioxins. Dioxins are chemicals very commonly found in the human body that are the unwanted by-products of a long list of manufacturing processes including smelting, chlorine bleaching of paper pulp and the manufacturing of some herbicides and pesticides. In addition, one of the worst sources of dioxins are from those released into the environment from uncontrolled waste incineration (solid waste and hospital waste).
While these chemicals are known to do nasty things to our bodies such as damage the mitochondria and increase levels of oxidative stress, there may be other, indirect ways, in which the health effects of pesticides work to damage your long term health.
In a mouse study, mice were given a high dose of a dioxin-like compound (TCDF) to see how this chemical affected the bacterial makeup in the gut (the “microbiome”). While the dose used was 1,000x what we are normally exposed to, it is in line with high dose occupational exposures. Here’s what happened:
- The gut microbiota shifted from Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes (not good—this is the same pattern that leads to obesity and diabetes).
- There were changes in bile acid metabolism.
- The TCDF triggered inflammation and changed the way the liver was handling and storing both fat and glucose.
In other words, the presence of pesticides in high levels began to change the character of the microbiome and this, in turn, led to long-term negative changes to other aspects of health. And although the exposure in this study was high, it would not surprise me if smaller exposures had much the same effects over time.
Health Effects of Pesticides: Obesity
While sometimes the link between environmental chemical exposure and disease is clear, many times it is not. Sometimes researchers have to take the pieces of the puzzle and put them together in creative ways to make estimates as to just how strong a relationship is.
This is what a group of researchers did to find links between environmental chemical exposure and obesity and diabetes. Specifically, they looked at dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (a breakdown product of DDT) , BPA, and phthalates (discussed later in this article). Then they went further, determining the costs related to healthcare expenditures due to these chemicals. Here’s what they found:
- The panel identified a 40% to 69% chance that dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene caused 1555 cases of overweight at age 10 (in 2010) with associated costs of $36.7 million.
- There was a 20% to 39% chance that dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene caused 28,200 cases of adult diabetes with associated costs of $12.5 billion.
- The panel also identified a 40% to 69% chance that phthalate exposure caused 53,900 cases of obesity in older women and $232 billion in associated costs.
- Phthalate exposure had a 40% to 69% chance of causing 20,500 new cases of diabetes in older women with $907 million in associated costs.
Because of the complex relationship between environmental exposures and health, the exact relationships are difficult to calculate. But, you’ll notice that these estimates do not include anything even close to ZERO. That means that there is a very high likelihood that these chemicals contribute to obesity and diabetes.
Sources of Pesticides in Food
Now that it’s clear that pesticides are not going to make you healthier, it should become apparent that you need to do everything that you can to reduce your exposure. But you can’t do that until you understand where those exposures come from.
Dinner with a Dash of Pesticides
Probably one of the foremost authority groups on pesticides is the Environmental Working Group. This is a research think tank and an advocacy group that focuses heavily on educating the public on the presence and dangers of chemicals in our environment.
While you may not have heard of EWG, you may be familiar with their Dirty Dozen and Clean 12 list (it has since been expanded to the Dirty Dozen + and the Clean Fifteen) that lists the most pesticide-laden produce items and the ones that have very little pesticide residues. For my family, we spend more on organic produce that is on the Dirty Dozen list (like apples and peppers) and don’t necessarily waste money on buying organic for produce on the Clean Fifteen (like pineapples).
With this process in mind, you can spend your produce dollars more wisely while lowering your family’s exposure to pesticides. In addition to searching from organic produce, you can also shop at your local farmer’s market. Locally grown produce is generally accepted to be lower in pesticides when compared to conventionally grown produce. (And it’s free from GMOs-which is a topic for another article)
If you live in the United States, there is one more little tidbit you are probably not aware of, but you should be before you spend extra money on organic produce.
There is some concern that much of the produce, organic or otherwise, that comes into the United States is sprayed down with pesticides before it makes it through customs. While this is considered a protective measure to make sure that bugs don’t get imported into the US, it’s really quite an unfair measure for the unsuspecting consumer who is spending extra hard-earned money on organic produce that really isn’t organic. For this reason I recommend that you try to buy organic produce from the Dirty Dozen list that have been grown in the US and not imported.
Low Quality Fish Oil Supplements
Besides the fruits and vegetables you eat, there are other sources of pesticides that you can be exposed to. One surprising source may be the supplements you are taking to improve your health. Make the wrong decision and they may do more damage than then good.
To put this into perspective, in one study researchers looked at the effect of contamination of fish oils with PCBs and OCs (two common forms of pesticides) on cholesterol levels, inflammation (as measured by hsCRP) and oxidative stress in a group of rats. The rats where given either “clean” fish oil, contaminated fish oil or corn oil (as a control). Here’s what they found:
- After 9 short weeks, there was an accumulation of PCBs and OCs in the fat tissue of the group given the contaminated fish oils.
- On the plus side, as expected, both fish oil groups had higher HDL cholesterol with lower triglycerides, LDL cholesterol and C-reactive protein.
- Unfortunately, in the contaminated fish oil group there were higher levels of damage to cholesterol (as measured by lipid peroxidation).
- The contaminated fish oil group also had less antioxidant capacity.
So, while the contaminated fish oils were doing their expected job of helping lower cardiovascular disease risk factors, in the background problems were brewing. This damage to fats (lipid peroxidation) and loss of antioxidant reserves is not a good thing and can actually do far more damage to your body in the long run.
When it comes to fish oils, as well as many other supplements, you DO get what you pay for. Make sure the brand you buy has been certified to be free of contaminants.
Organic Coffee and Tea—Money Well Spent
Besides the obvious ones like fruits and vegetables, there are sneakier sources of exposures to pesticides that you may not be aware of. And, for some of you, these exposures occur daily.
Coffee and tea are some of the most pesticide-laden food items grown. Yes, that wonderful, savory morning ritual may be starting your liver on a path of working hard to break down the toxins you are ingesting with breakfast.
Given the increasing concern of consumers, it is becoming easier and easier to find organic coffees for home use. At one of our local health-food stores, Sprouts, we wait until organic coffee goes on sale and pick up several pounds to keep us stocked up until the next sale.
The same goes for teas. The market for organic teas has driven more and more tea producers to offer organic varieties. Brands like Tazo, China Mist and Tumi seem to be continually increasing the flavors available. I can’t begin to express just how excited I was to recently learn that China Mist started offering organic teas with flavors like jasmine peach, watermelon and tropic. But maybe I just need a hobby…
For those of you without access to these brands, you can look online at www.EspEmporium.com which has a very wide variety of organic teas available.
And, in case you’re thinking that drinking coffee and tea organically doesn’t apply to you because you don’t drink coffee or tea, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your drink choices, considering the thousands of studies supporting the health benefits of coffee and tea…
Hidden Pesticides in Processed Foods and Chips
Cottonseed oil is an oil commonly used in food processing to increase shelf life. I could be wrong, but I don’t think you’ll find cottonseed oil used in any of the healthier snacks and foods. Cottonseed oil is an omega-6 oil that promotes inflammation and chronic disease. In other words, even if that was all that was wrong with cottonseed oil it would still be bad enough.
But it gets worse. I probably don’t need to tell you that cottonseed oil comes from the cotton plant. And the use of pesticides differs from textile crops to food crops. In textiles, pesticide use is much higher, leading to higher levels of pesticides in the oil made from this plant. Although the FDA does regulate the levels of the more common pesticides in all products used in food, there is a much greater variety of pesticides used in cotton, with a high likelihood that some of these toxins may escape the FDA’s watchful eye.
Adding this little factoid into the mix of high omega-6 levels pretty much rules out any foods that have cottonseed oil listing in the ingredient label.
No one wants to spontaneously burst into flames. Or have your underwear do the same. And having the couch you’re watching TV on go nuclear would totally suck. But there is a price to be paid for this safety.
To get to this level of burst-into-flames-resistance chemicals are required. Chemicals like boric acid, antimony and a $.75 name for a chemical compound that is so hard to pronounce most just call it “deca” are used in this process. And, as you can envision, these are not good for your or your family’s health.
But since these compounds are everywhere, you’re going to have to be a little conscientious on where and what brands of furniture, clothing and mattresses you buy. Here are some tips:
- For pajamas, use form fitting clothing that do not require the flame resistant standards of loose pajamas.
- Look for clothing and toys made with naturally-flame resistant materials (the link above takes you to an article that is a great resource).
- Consider the mattresses your family sleeps on. Standards were changed in 2007 to include more toxic chemicals, but in my recent search for a new mattress, many of the larger manufacturers have move to naturally flame-resistant fibers to meet the standards.
- Throw out items that have been in use for too long. Drapes, carpets, rugs, dog beds, furniture–as these age, the toxic chemicals in them leach out into your house.
- Purchase air filters for your home and dust, sweep and vacuum frequently to keep dust to a minimum (many toxins hitch a ride on house dust).
Flame retardants are all around you. But by being aware of what products may have them imbedded, you can begin the process of reducing you and your family’s exposure to them.
Heavy Metal Exposures
If you grew up in the 80’s like me, you likely have fond memories of heavy metal. But Ozzy and Iron Maiden are not the topic of discussion here. Rather, these heavy metals occupy a place on the periodic table of the elements And they are well known to damage your health.
Some you’ve unquestionably heard of. Mercury is the most potent neurotoxin on the planet (and yet we inject it directly into our kids’ bloodstream—but this is a topic for another article). Lead is known to bind to red blood cells and starve the brain for oxygen. Arsenic damages the kidneys and leads to high blood pressure.
Others are not quite so popular like antimony. Cadmium is another heavy metal that has been linked to kidney damage and heart disease.
Given that heavy metals are such a concern for health, it would be important to know how you are exposed so you can do your best to avoid them.
Common Sources of Heavy Metal Exposures
Reducing your exposure to heavy metals is an important aspect to long term health. But you can’t really avoid heavy metals if you don’t know where they are coming from. That’s where this study comes in handy, identifying common sources of exposure to lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic.
Lead: Food, water, air, gasoline additives, food-can soldering, lead-based paints, ceramic glazes, drinking water pipe systems, folk remedies. In general, pretty much everywhere. Another common source is from environmental dust. Simply taking your shoes off at the door may lower your exposure.
Cadmium: Contaminated food (leafy vegetables, grains, organ meats, and crustaceans), drinking water, inhalation of polluted air, occupational exposure in industries, tobacco smoke. For most non-smokers, exposure to cadmium is mostly from foods raised or grown on contaminated soil. It is likely that organic products (meat as well as plants) will be lower in cadmium.
Mercury: Contaminated fish, meat and organ tissue of marine mammals or feral wildlife, dental amalgams, skin-lightening creams, antiseptic facial products, mercury-containing laxatives or diuretics, teething powders, latex paint. These exposures are easier to identify but not necessarily avoid (i.e. you got amalgam fillings 20 years ago, you LOVE high-mercury fish like halibut and tuna…)
Arsenic: Contaminated fish, tobacco smoke, arsenic treated wood, ingestion of high-arsenic drinking water. A big problem here is that much of the water used for organic farms may be contaminated with arsenic, so that even if all organic principles are followed, arsenic levels may be higher for this reason.
Arsenic in Your Chicken
As mentioned, arsenic has been linked to high blood pressure as well as a long list of other chronic health conditions. The most ominous of these would be cancer. And the links with cancer are strong enough for even the American Cancer Society to agree that it causes cancer (the ACS loves to ride the fence on blaming things for cancer). Luckily, organic chicken is a safer choice:
- Arsenic levels were TRIPLE the amount in conventional versus organic and antibiotic-free chicken (the organic was only slightly better).
- Roxarsone was detected in 20 of 40 conventional samples, 1 of 13 antibiotic-free samples, and none of the 25 organic samples.
- Researchers estimated that consumers of conventional chicken would ingest an additional 0.11 µg/day of arsenic compared with consumers of organic chicken.
- This increase in arsenic exposure could result in 3.7 more bladder and lung cancer cases for every 100,000 people exposed.
Teflon Cookware; Sticky Health Concerns
It surprises me just how many products are coated with unpronounceable chemicals that keep feed from sticking to it. Pots and pans. Spatulas. Panini makers. Waffle makers. Even fondue pots.
It seems like we can’t be trusted to keep from burning our meals and spending days scrubbing pots clean.
For this reason, Teflon is layered on many of the products that come in contact with food. Just in case “Teflon” sounds like a safe word, try the chemical term perfluorooctanoic acid. Doesn’t sound like something I would particularly want my food exposed to.
There have links between perfluorooctanoic acid and various health conditions. Heart disease and thyroid damage are pretty well established.
In one particular study researchers looked at the relationship between perfluorooctanoic acid to heart disease, stroke and peripheral artery disease (plaquing of the arteries in the legs). Here’s what they found:
- Those with the highest levels in their blood had DOUBLE the risk of heart disease and stroke
- They also had a 178% greater risk for peripheral artery disease
These relationships are NOT due to the food that the participants were eating, but from the surface on which they was preparing their foods.
For a long time, society adopted Teflon without question, looking at the benefits of convenience rather than the cost of convenience. But we now have enough data to look at Teflon as a silent, relatively unknown contributor to the scourge of chronic diseases in society today.
While it may be a little more work, going to stainless steel, cast iron or copper infused cookware is a much smarter idea for your health.
There are some new surfaces that have replaced Teflon in the attempt to quietly alleviate the concerns over the health effects of non-stick coatings. While there is no data yet on these compounds, I would personally avoid them. There is a long list of situations where one toxic compound was replaced with another toxic compound—I am skeptical that we’re going to see the same situation play out with non-stick cookware.
Phthalates, or Why You Should be Happy to Stink
No one wants to smell offensive, live in a stinky home or wear stinky clothes. It’s hard to make and keep friends that way.
Luckily, there is an industry that can solve your problems. Cologne, dryer sheets, fabric softener, carpet freshener, air freshener, scented facial tissues, even scented toilet paper (really???). It seems like society can’t tolerate the natural smells around us and industry has capitalized on this obsession with smelling pretty.
My wife has complained about not being able to use fabric softener for our laundry because, after time, they accumulate that less-than-desirable odor. Personally, I’d rather KNOW that it’s time for us to throw out the towel than to cover it up with a synthetic smell. The same goes for the carpets, car interior and bathroom (OK—so maybe in the bathroom I’ll rely on the exhaust fan…).
So what’s the big deal with fragrances?
Most synthetic fragrances contain phthalates. Phthalates are plasticizers used in industry to increase flexibility, transparency, durability and longevity (so plastics can accumulate for hundreds of years in the environment). Phthalates are responsible for that new car, new shower curtain or new carpet smell. Quite frankly, phthalates are present in just about EVERYTHING from all plastics to the coating on pharmaceutical drugs.
They are in so many products used in society that breakdown products of phthalates are found in everyone’s blood stream in pretty high levels. Luckily, the recommendations I’ve given on BPA in plastics are the same for phthalates, so you don’t need to avoid too many additional products.
With the exception of fragrances. Fragrances frequently contain a phthalate derived compound called diethyl phthalate (DEP). And it’s not usually on the label, so your best bet is to avoid anything that contains synthetic fragrances.
As far as health concerns, top of the list is hormone-related problems like breast cancer and fertility problems. But a less commonly known problem with phthalates is the links with asthma and allergies.
This particular study looked at the presence of compounds know to mimic hormones in the body as well as chemicals known to contribute to asthma. Researchers looked at just where many of these compounds may be lurking, and you’ll likely find most of the list present in your home, car and office. They include:
- Vinyl products (think shower curtains)
- Fragranced products such as perfume, air fresheners, and dryer sheets
Many chemicals found were not listed on product labels.
Personally, I think that #2 (fragrances) is the one that I think most people have a hard time understanding. Or maybe they are just not willing to admit that fragrances are a problem. Just to clear things up–they ARE.
Think on this. Just how many of these things soaked in fragrances do you expose yourself to?
- Dryer sheets (we use those dryer ball thingees)
- Carpet fresheners (so the carpet still stinks, but you’ve covered up the stinky smell with a chemical one)
- Most candles (very few are made with only essential oils)
- Air fresheners (see carpet fresheners, above…)
- Bath stuff (bombs, shampoos, bubble baths, salts)
Heterocyclic Whats? Polyaromatic Who?
You’ve spent lots of extra money for your grass-fed-through-the-entire-lifestyle filet mignon and you’re going to couple it with broccoli and organic green tea and dine under the stars with the love of your life, to make it the perfect meal.
And then you ruin it all by throwing it on the grill.
Rapidly heating up animal products (you can flash fly Portobello mushrooms and not cause any problems) damages the proteins exposed to the high heat, creating compounds called heterocyclic amines.
Worse, the fat coming off of the meats as it cooks drops down and hits the high heat source, chemically altering the fat to produce another toxic compound called polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). The PAHs then rise back up and stick to the meat in the smoke coming off the hot surfaces.
Both of these compounds have been strongly linked to cancer risk, helping to explain the links between grilled meats and cancer risk.
In addition to cancer risk, there are links between these chemicals and problems in pregnancy. In the study, researchers found that exposure to PAH in pregnancy had an effect on birth weight.
Pregnant women with the highest exposures to PAH had no effect on the length of pregnancy, but rather somehow interfered with the growth of the baby, leading to lower birth weights.
So, PAH and HCA are not good for you. Rather than throwing up your hands in despair and searching Yelp for the nearest oncologist with the best Yelp reviews, here are several ways to protect yourself from these chemical exposures:
- The first and most obvious is to not grill your meats.
- Barring that, you can baste and marinate the meat, add in spices, use grease traps, use leaner meats and trim away as much fat as possible before cooking all help to reduce the formation of PAH. This helps protect the proteins from the high heat exposure and also reduces the fats that sizzle off of the meats and hit the flames below.
- Grilling your meats slowly can reduce the formation of these toxic compounds. Instead of trying to flash fry your filet, take your time over a lower flame.
- If these three aren’t options, you can eat your HCA and PAH loaded grilled steak along with the protective compounds in broccoli to help reduce the damage done to your body.
The purpose of this article is not to scare you and induce a sense of doom and despair as it relates to your long term health. The goal is to educate you on the fact that toxic exposures from the environment exist and you are absolutely, positively exposed.
The best you can do is understand where these exposures are in your life and do your best to avoid them as much as possible. And know that you can’t possibly eliminate all the exposures. Do I drink out of plastic water bottles? Sure, but only if I’m dying of thirst in the middle of the desert and I come across a vendor selling bottled water. Better than dying.
But short of that, I plan ahead and bring my own drinking supplies.
So what have YOU done to cut your exposure to toxic chemicals? Or, if you’re not there yet, where are your greatest exposures? Feel free to join in the comments.