There was an interesting article in yesterday’s Oakland Tribune about the little known effects that chemicals can have on human health. It's well worth checking out. Everybody knows that a big chemical exposure (or smaller exposures over time) can make cells go wiggy and turn cancerous. But there’s also a host of other things that chemicals do, and these don’t get much press even though I think they're as important as the carcinogenicity factor.
For example, there’s what happens when chemicals mix and mysteriously magnify each other’s effects. Or what happens when you’re exposed to something inthe womb vs. being exposed later in life. Not to mention the fact the tiny doses of certain substances seem more insidious than big ones.
Then there’s the issue of epigenetics, which I’m convinced is going to be the next big story where chemical toxins are concerned, much in the same way hormone disruption went from wacky fringe science to mainstream acceptance. Epigenetics theories say that chemicals our ancestors encountered can affect us without mutating our inherited genes. Instead, they work by altering the way those genes are expressed.
The Oakland Tribune article touches on all this and more, and while I think they could have done a better and/or more detailed job of explaining some of the ideas they present and offered a little more in the way of evidence, the article is still the first time I’ve seen most if not all of the hugely under-reported aspects of chemical contamination reported in one place.
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