Water is essential for life and we need to replenish our supply of it everyday. But what happens when that basic life force becomes a toxic assault? Pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and other chemicals pollute our water supplies, and now even "second-hand drugs" have hit the news and become a concern. In actuality, antibiotics, birth control pills, beta blockers, contrast agents for diagnostic X-rays, etc, were discovered in sewage, treated water, and rivers ten years ago; up to 90 percent of excreted drugs can remain biologically active!!1 Scientists report that "17-alpha ethinylestradiol, a pharmaceutical estrogen, is detectable in water systems worldwide."2
The Mayo Clinic website listed antibiotics in food and water as one of the major causes for the emergence of the virulent MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) long before the news broke on the pharmaceuticals in the water. They note that, "Prescription drugs aren’t the only source of antibiotics. In the United States; antibiotics can be found in beef cattle, pigs and chickens. The same antibiotics then find their way into municipal water systems when the runoff from feedlots contaminates streams and groundwater."3 Xenoestrogen Exposure:
The drugged water discovery is a warning sign, and it has been out there for some time now. Drugs and other toxic compounds find their way into our water supplies. Xenoestrogens, for instance, are toxic, estrogen-like compounds (due to the breakdown of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc.) blamed for increased cancers and hormonal disruption, including decreased sperm counts in humans.4 Xenoestrogens modulate vascular endothelial growth factor secretion in breast cancer cells through an estrogen receptor-dependent mechanism.5,6 Fish that were born male have been known to turn into egg-bearing females because of these chemical xenoestrogenic by-products.7,8 The bald eagle has suffered a life-threatening deformity of its beak due to the same suspected toxic cause. Researchers reveal that, "Endocrine-disrupting compounds have the capacity of altering the normal function of the endocrine system. They have shown dramatic effects on the reproductive biology of aquatic wildlife and may affect human reproduction as well," AND that "low doses caused major reproductive deficits."9 Additionally, it is known that "human beings are widely exposed to low levels of the synthetic xenoestrogen, bisphenol A."10 Detoxification:
Detoxification nutrients can really help against this toxic assault. Nutrients like milk thistle, N-acetyl cysteine, alpha lipoic acid, vitamin C, selenium, glutamine, rosemary and turmeric can increase the liver’s ability to detoxify second-hand drugs and toxins by increasing glutathione levels. Glutathione acts as a major antioxidant and detoxifier, conjugating deleterious substances in the liver and getting them ready for removal. Sulfonation is another method of detoxification in the liver. It has been shown that sulfonation not only inactivates estrogens, but the way that some of the xenoestrogens are wreaking havoc is by interfering with the sulfotransferase enzyme.11
One of the best ways to enhance sulfur detoxification is to facilitate the methylation pathway (methylation is also good for toxin removal) that makes sulfur as an end product. This methylation pathway has the added perks of reducing toxic homocysteine, increasing brain neurotransmitters, and producing glutathione precursors and can be facilitated with the nutritional elements vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12, folic acid, and DMG (dimethylglycine). Garlic and onions are good sources of dietary sulfur. Those who are sensitive to consuming sulfur can make sulfur in their body and bypass gastrointestinal problems without consequence by facilitating this pathway. If the garlic is organic, it will contain selenium as well.
Of course, it is imperative to drink water filtered to remove small particles, not just chlorine. Eat fresh, organic fruits and vegetables with a balanced diet full of nutritional detoxifiers. Supplement when necessary to facilitate pathways. We have options to build defenses against the toxic assaults we find in our environment.
Dr. Lynn Toohey received her Ph.D. in nutrition from Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, CO. She has lectured to chiropractors and other health professionals on nutrition-related topics and complementary medicine, including the chiropractic associations of New Mexico, Ohio, Florida, and Georgia, and the International College of Applied Kinesiology (ICAK). Dr. Toohey has been published in a number of peer-reviewed journals, including The Journal of Nutrition, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and the British Journal of Nutrition.
1. Science News, Vol 153, March 21, 1998
2. Physiol Genomics. 2006 Nov 27;27(3):328-36. Gene expression profiling in the neuroendocrine brain of male goldfish (Carassius auratus) exposed to 17alpha-ethinylestradiol. Martyniuk CJ, et al.
4. J Endocrinol. 2008 Feb;196(2):399-412
5. Buteau-Lozano H, et al.; Hum Reprod. 2002 Aug;17(8):1973-9
6. Decreased human semen quality and organochlorine compounds in blood. Dallinga JW, et al.
7. Environ Health Perspect. 2006 Apr;114(4): 500-6.
8. Antiestrogens inhibit xenoestrogen-induced brain aromatase activity but do not prevent xenoestrogen-induced feminization in Japanese medaka (Oryzias latipes). Kuhl AJ, Brouwer M.
9. Proc Biol Sci. 2007 Jul 7;274(1618):1631-6. Altered reproductive success in rat pairs after environmental-like exposure to xenoestrogen. Fusani L, et al.
10. Endocrinology. 2008 Mar;149(3):988-94. Bisphenol a prevents the synaptogenic response to testosterone in the brain of adult male rats. Leranth C, et al.
11. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2008 Feb;108(3-5):213-20. Phytoestrogens and xenoestrogens: the contribution of diet and environment to endocrine disruption. Waring RH, et al.