Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP’s) are a major toxin to be avoided as much as possible. These are organic compounds that are resistant to degradation and are lipid-soluble, which means that they will persist in our bodies for decades and even generations. These are the pesticides, solvents, plastics, and industrial chemicals we have been exposed to during our lives. In 1995, the WHO identified the dirty dozen as: Aldrin, Chlordane, DDT, Dieldrin , Endrin, Heptachlor, Hexachlorbenzene, Mirex, Polychlorinated Biphenyls, Polychlorinated-Dibenzyl-P-Dioxins, Polychlorinated Dibenzylfurans, and Toxafene. Since then, they have added Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH’s), Brominated Flame Retardants (PCBE’s), Trybutyltin, and others.
A Canadian study found 46 of 69 POP’s measured in virtually everyone. The negative effects are persistent and significant including: oxidative stress-depleting glutathione, endocrine disruption -especially thyroid and sex hormones, mitochondrial damage, and methylation disruption affecting cell energy, neurotransmitters, protein synthesis, as well as the very reading of our genetic code. These effects range from decreased IQ to increased rates of ADHD and other more-severe forms of brain disorders. Increased diabetes and cardiovascular disorders are also known effects.
Avoidance is the key. Start by eating lower on the food chain (primarily vegetarian). BPA can best be avoided by steering clear of food containers (cans and plastics). Eating organic minimizes pesticide exposure and optimal nutritional supplements can assist in detoxification. Supporting glutathione with NAC or cysteine may be helpful, though some who suffer from intestinal yeast overgrowth cannot tolerate this as it also feeds yeast.
Methylation support is critical for many and can be obtained by taking folate, B12, and betaine. This is known to reduce autism. A recent study in JAMA, Feb 2013, showed a reduction of autism from 1 in 500 to 1 in 1000 just by mom’s taking folate while pregnant.
A great review article can be found by Joseph Pizzorno in the journal Integrative Medicine, Vol 12 No. 2 April 2013.