A world awash in chemicals

We have long suspected that chemicals interact with one another, creating destructive synergies, but this has been difficult to prove since very few studies have ever looked at the combined effects of multiple chemicals. This applies not only to chemicals in the environment, like pesticide residues or plastics, but also to medications, most of which are also chemical compounds. Although medications are studied for safety, these studies are only performed on one medication at a time, even though they may very well interact with one another and with other chemicals thereby creating new compounds with different and unknown safety profiles.

Now the tip of the iceberg may be starting to emerge, as a new study from Duke University looked at the interaction between the pre-term labor drug terbutaline (Bethine), for which one million prescriptions are written every year, and ubiquitous pesticide residues. The study used rats, but it is very likely that the results apply to humans as well since rats have consistently been shown to be more resistant to chemicals than we are.

In the study, a group of pregnant rats were given terbutaline at appropriate doses and their offspring were then exposed to the pesticide chlopyrifos in residue amounts typical of human exposure. Other baby rats were exposed to the pesticide without first receiving the drug. Although some degree of brain cell damage could be demonstrated in both groups, those with the double exposure were impacted to a far greater extent, proving that the drug had sensitized their brains to the adverse effects of the pesticide. In particular, the damage involved areas of the brain known to be involved in memory and learning. Find a news release of this study at http://news.mc.duke.edu/news/article.php?id=7496

Studies like these can be depressing, especially if you were given this drug or, for that matter, any drug during pregnancy and your child has learning problems. However, what counts the most is that we focus on things we can do to remedy these situations.

Fortunately we have powerful and natural, non-toxic supplements such as fish oil that can help. In a recent British study performed to rigorous scientific standards, children suffering from behavioral and learning problems experienced significant improvements when given fish oil. Symptoms of hyperactivity lessened by an order of magnitude comparable to that achieved with stimulant drugs such as Ritalin. Other problem areas improved as well, including coordination, motor skills and dyslexia.

This seems to be solid evidence that fish oil, given much later in life, can still repair a great deal of damage. Read about the study at http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,1474653,00.html

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