Research & Education

Environmental Toxins Chemical Sensitivities and Immune Health


According to WebMD environmental illness occurs as a response to toxic or hazardous chemical exposure. Environmental diseases can affect any organ system of the body. What fails to get recognized is the fact that chronic exposure to environmental chemicals whether they are food air or water borne can directly cause full blown disease states and additionally raise the possibility of environmentally-caused genetic diseases having long term persistent effects in future generations.

How the diseases are expressed depends on how the particular environmental agent enters the body how it is metabolized and by what route it is excreted. The skin lungs liver kidneys and nervous system are commonly affected by different agents in different settings. For example as toxins from the breakdown of plastics continue to enter our environment they will inevitably enter the food chain as evidenced by the persistence of toxic compounds found in ocean waters worldwide.

Researchers have recently estimated that environmentally induced childhood diseases cost the country an average of $76.6 billion annually. This includes diseases such as childhood cancer asthma autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) conditions which have been associated with exposure to various toxic environmental chemicals.

Genetic impact

What may be the most insidious aspect of environmentally caused illnesses is the toxin's ability to impact future generations. Exposure to exogenously produced toxins has been shown to cause epigenetic changes as “there is published evidence of transgenerational inheritance effects. These changes can manifest themselves in higher rates of cancer diabetes issues of fertility and in general abnormal disease phenotypes which are exactly the types of disease increases we've been witness to for decades.

Gene expression can be modified through the ingestion of toxic substances by an altering variety of mechanisms and pathways including modification of chromatin structure stimulation or inhibition of signaling molecules stimulation or inhibition of cytokine receptors alteration of DNA methylation and exogenously produced toxins acting as endocrine disruptors. These various biochemical pathway alterations have indeed been shown to directly lead to various disease states including autoimmunity.

A large majority of chronic illnesses are finally albeit slowly being attributed to chemical sensitivity related issues whose symptoms are shared by different and as of this time technically idiopathic conditions such as multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome fibromyalgia chronic fatigue syndrome irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) Persian Gulf War veteran syndrome and hypersensitivity to electromagnetic radiation.  However we are currently in need of developing a working algorithm in order to determine the role various states of toxicity play in the disease process.

The need for detoxification was blogged about recently but in the face of the devastating and long-term impact of current toxic states of our air food and water perhaps the need for simple patient-friendly detoxification programs cannot be overstated.

by Michael Fuhrman D. C.