The current online version of this article is not a complete representation of the original print publication. This post has been reproduced from two sources, the original print edition published 02/18/04 and the online version last updated 3:32 PM - 12/16/10 at http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs.d ... sitesearch (Highlights added to text are not in original article.)
Times-Herald-Record Wednesday, February 18, 2004
6IX QUESTIONS…WITH A LOCAL BIOMONITOR
By Wayne A. Hall
For the Times Herald-Record
Dr. Richard Horowitz’s mother, father, aunts and uncles all died of cancer.
Convinced that they were victims of a new epidemic – toxic chemicals in our bodies – Horowitz has parachuted into one of the hottest battles in health care: biomonitoring.
Horowitz is a former assistant director of medicine at Vassar Brothers Hospital and a Lyme disease specialist with 6,000 patients.
What wrenched you from the ranks of traditional diagnoses and medicine?
The two epidemics that have really opened my eyes as an internist have been Lyme disease and cancer. I have people coming into my office right and left with cancer. There’s a point as a doctor where you step back and go, what is going on? Why is everyone coming down (with cancer)?
Where do these cancers come from?
Aren’t they just genetic or perhaps from as-yet-unknown sources?
Ninety-five percent of all cancers are believed to be environmental. What I found to be interesting is the CDC just did a study of 2,500 people and looked for 116 pollutants in the body and all 116 were in more than 50 percent of the people. They didn’t look at health implications, but we know all of these are toxins. They create free radical (unstable oxygen molecules) damage to the cells and we know that it’s free radicals that damage the DNA that causes these cancerous changes. The health implications are enormous.
Yes, but what can we do about it if, as you say, these substances are everywhere?
Two dentist friends of mind called me up in one week of each other and said, “Hey, Rich, we’ve got mercury toxicity.” I went, “How interesting.” So I checked myself. I was positive on mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium and aluminum. We as doctors were not taught to even screen people for this unless someone came in and had classic symptoms, say, of lead toxicity, abdominal cramps or anemia.
What did you do next?
I found 99 percent of everyone I screened – 496 out of 500 – (were in the) elevated range for heavy metals.
Can a detox regimen prevent cancer?
It’s lowering the agents that cause cancer. It’s impossible not to get this stuff. There’s tons of mercury falling from the sky. The government now says pregnant women shouldn’t eat tuna. You have to think of it in terms of total body burden.
Is this a one-time deal?
No. It’s not just enough to go to a doctor and (have) blood pressure control, lower your cholesterol and lose weight. You now have to think in terms of (periodic) detoxification. And it’s not just me, Dr. Horowitz, saying, “Hey, Chicken Little, everyone’s got heavy metals (and other toxins).” Now we’ve got the CDC study.
We live in a soup of chemicals – 75,000 have been produced by the petrochemical industry alone since World War II.
Are we safe or just ignorant?
Pollution critics say we’re in a fight for our lives. They call it the effects of “toxic burdens”: all those chemicals and metals we breathe, touch and ingest.
Not to worry, says the American Chemistry Council. In fact industry group spokesman Chris Vandenheuvel says, “chemicals are evaluated by government scientists before being used.” And, he says, Americans are living longer and healthier lives than ever.
Besides, he says, industrial chemicals aren’t the only toxins out there.
Natural food, he says, like “the broccoli plant,” produces a lot of toxins to repel pests. And we have to deal with them just like chemicals.
But for years, critics have insisted that no one really knows what happens to us when we are exposed to many chemicals at once.
Nutrition guru Gary Null says the entire body can be thrown out of whack by a big dollop of a chemical, especially the industrial kind.
Now, for the first time, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is behind a massive biomonitoring study (the first part cost $$6.5 million and found 116 chemicals in our bodies, many toxic). The study continues into 2006 to find out which chemicals get into Americans and at what concentrations.
Treatment for toxins
Dr. Richard Horowitz has a three-tiered protocol. Detox, chelate (expel heavy metals) and protect the body with antioxidants.
Take a sauna a couple of times a week. That’s what the firefighters did after Sept. 11 to detox in New York City.
Chelate using agents such as DMSA, a metal bonding acid.
Take a gram of vitamin C two times a day and nutritional supplements such as glutathione to help the liver detoxify.
Consume lots of fruits and vegetables. Omega 3 fatty acids. Acidophilus to detox the intestines and a couple of cups of green tea every day.
Try a detox cocktail. Horowitz uses alpha linolenic acid (an omega 3 fatty acid), vitamin C, and 61/2 pounds of fruits and vegetables in capsule form. Horowitz says all this is affordable and can be customized.
Questions to answer
Fueling the debate about the new science of biomonitoring is an ongoing six-year study by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that so far has found 116 chemicals in half of the 2,500 people tested.
Chemicals included pesticides and PCBs (think polychlorinated biphenyis due for cleanup from the Hudson River).
Those 116 substances, including 12 metals, are troubling, says the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Working Group, which did its own tests on just nine people and found 167 substances, including a flame retardant that acts like hormones in the body.
The CDC plans to answer these questions in future reports: Are exposures going up or down over time? Are public health exposure controls working? Do certain groups of people fare worse than others?
Right now, with its first go-round done, the CDC says: “Just because people have an environmental chemical in their blood or urine doesn’t mean that the chemical causes disease.”
OK, Doc Richard Horowitz threw me a challenge.
— Take his heavy metals test and see what I find.
— I was cocky. Since I had prostate cancer, I live well. — No red meat. Vitamins every day. I try to ditch stress. And I live in — the country. Clean air. I was betting I'd see some heavy metal traces, — but not much more than I'd find on the vitamin bottle label for good-for-you — metals like copper and magnesium.
— Guess again. I'm a mercury mine. The test results showed — a big black line for mercury that almost ran off the page.
— Other metals came up, too.
— But, I guess the really good news for me, since I've — been to nuclear power plants, was no uranium. Just kidding.
— Wayne A. Hall
— Brain: possible permanent brain damage at very high levels; tremors; auto-immune problems
— Kidney: organ damage
— Fingernails: brittle
— Thyroid and Lung: can damage both
— Level found: very elevated 17 parts per million
— Found in: power plant and smelter emissions, old batteries, fish; leaches from rocks; some say old dental fillings
— Can affect almost every organ
— Brain: possible damage in children
— Kidney: damage here and reproductive system
— Level found: elevated at 23 ppm. Acceptable is less than 15 ppm.
— Found in: lead paint in buildings, in the air from scrapyards (tons were trucked from Newburgh's waterfront), workplaces, hobbies like stained glass
— Lung: increased risk of cancer
— Skin: increased risk of cancer
— Liver: increased risk of cancer
— Prostate: increased risk of cancer
— Level found: normal at 23 ppm.; normal is less than 120.
— Found in: pesticides, which are used a lot in the region; treated wood and cigarette smoke
— Stomach: aches.
— Liver: problems
— Kidneys: problems
— Blood: anemia
— Level found: normal at .9 ppm.; normal is less than .9
— Found in: tinfoil, solders and anti-fouling paints.
— Lung: damage and death
— Kidney: buildup leading to kidney disease
— Bones: become fragile
— Prostate: believed to cause cancer
— Level found: Normal, .5 ppm. Normal is less than 2 ppm.
— Found in: industrial pollution such as lead smelting (think RSR in Middletown), electroplating, rechargeable batteries and some paint pigments
The test results are from Doctor's Data in St. Charles, Ill., which cost about $80 and wasn't HMO reimbursable.
Sources: World Health Organization and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.