Our Brains Under Attack

Alzheimers brain illustration

And not just from the barrage of TV ads that force themselves upon us.

Its toxic junk in the air and our food and our communities. I will be quoting from two overview articles. 1) “The Toxins That Threaten Our Brains” by James Hamblin in the March 18, 2014 issue of Atlantic Monthly, and 2) “Does Pollution Cause Dementia, the terrifying new science” by Aaron Reuben in the July/August 2015 issue of Mother Jones magazine.

Let’s look at what they have to say to us.

  • Medical researchers Philippe Grandjean of Harvard Medical School and Philip Landrigan of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine stated “Our very great concern is that children worldwide are being exposed to unrecognized toxic chemicals that are silently eroding intelligence, disrupting behaviors, truncating future achievements and damaging societies.” Also, that genetic factors account for no more than 30 to 40 percent of all cases of brain development disorders.
  • Grandjean and Landrigan continue: “By age two, almost all of the billions of brains cells that you will ever have are in their places. During these sensitive life stages, exposure can cause permanent brain injury at low levels that would have little of no adverse effect on an adult.”
  • Insecticides kill insects by the same way that military Sarin gas kills people, because the human nervous system operates by the same biochemistry. Particularly egregious are organophosphates such as Chlorpyrifos that was in 1965 the most widely used insect killer in American homes. Under intense pressure, Dow Chemical removed it from household products. But it is still used on the crops that give the food we eat.
  • The American Lung Association estimates that more than 46 million Americans are chronically exposed to levels of particle pollution that exceed EPA standards. In New York City it is estimated that 12,000 deaths (in 2005) could be attributed to air pollution.
  • The evidence continues to accumulate that very fine particles (less that one-tenth the diameter of human hair) can move along the olfactory nerves and go directly to the brain where they can kill neurons. Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s degenerative diseases afflict about 6 million persons in the U.S.
  • Where does all this particulate air pollution come from? Idling school buses (illegal in some parts of the country), idling trucks (long-haul trucks idle as much as eight hours a day), idling cars, farm tractors, heavy construction equipment, and idling ships in ports (in the Los Angeles port these emissions exceed those from all the power plants in the region combined).
  • If you want to see air quality data for your area of the country (listed by city and county), see http://www.epa.gov/airquality/airdata.
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A Perspective on Diseases and Disorders that Plague Humans

DiseasesDo you worry about getting polio? Of course not – you were undoubtedly vaccinated as a child. However, there are other very serious diseases.

For centuries, going back to the Egyptians, people were threatened by diseases such as: Measles, Mumps, Diphtheria, Polio, Smallpox, Influenza, Meningitis, Tuberculosis, Syphilis, Pneumonia, Diarrhea, Cholera, Typhoid fever, Bubonic plague, Malaria. These are often referred to as Communicable Diseases or Infectious Diseases because they are caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites and can be transmitted (communicated) from one person to another.

These diseases could not be prevented until their causes were known, and this was not established until the middle 1800s by Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch. Good sanitation and vaccination were the answers. Once infected, techniques for cures were slowly developed through scientific methods. Different vaccines and antibiotics were developed for each disease.

Nowadays those diseases that plagued people for centuries are seldom encountered in first-world countries. If an incipient plague springs up anywhere in the world, the World Health Organization initiates quarantine steps and mobilizes the medical communities for cures. Instead we are assailed by a variety of chronic debilitating disorders that are not caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites.

You might worry about getting cancer, and rightly so, Over a lifetime, 50% of men and 33% of women are likely to get cancer and about 40% of those who develop cancer will die of it. And as we are well aware, there are several other serious health problems to worry about: Athersclerosis, Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, Rheumatism, Chronic kidney disease, Autism, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Obesity. Of course we want cures for these health-robbing disorders. More importantly, we would prefer to never get any of these disorders.

To avoid these dreadful afflictions we need to inquire about their causes. Volumes of medical studies clearly indicate three causes: genetic defects, toxic chemicals and chronic stress. Nothing can be done about the genes we inherit, but we can eliminate or avoid toxic chemicals in the home, workplace and community. We can also eliminate or reduce chronic stress by changes in how we live, and by yoga and meditation. This entire blog site and my book are devoted to identifying toxic chemicals, describing how they damage us, and how to avoid them.

More needs saying about genetic defects. At least at the present time, we cannot do anything about the genes we inherit from our parents. However, there IS something that can be done about the genes that our children will acquire, and that something must be done BEFORE the child is born. The fetus must be protected from toxic substances that have been proven to cause damage to the genes; radiation and alcohol are two well known deadly culprits. Hundreds of toxic chemicals have been found in the blood of umbilical cords – that lifeline from mother to the fetus – and they are implicated in many of these disorders.

A summary statement was issued by the prestigious American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine: “Toxic chemicals in our environment harm our ability to reproduce, negatively affect pregnancies, and are associated with long-term health problems.”

What lessons are here? One, many chronic, debilitating diseases can be prevented by persistent conscious attention to avoiding the toxic chemicals that daily assault our bodies. Two, pregnant women need to keep their bodies free of toxic chemicals. Three, mothers need to keep their growing children’s bodies free of toxic chemicals.

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