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Aluminum, arsenic, cadmium - toxicity

Toxic metals - Mercury - Lead - Aluminum - Arsenic - Cadmium

You don't have to look hard for where the aluminum accumulating in your body comes from: it is everywhere, from aluminum cans and cookware, to deodorants and antiperspirants, baking powders, salt, spices, food additives, drinking water (natural, as well as added for water treatment in some water supply systems), prescribed and over-the-counter medications (antacids, buffered aspirin, antidiarrheal drugs, aluminum hydroxide gel, etc.), even baby milk formulas and intravenous fluids.

You may be ingesting

up to 10 mg of aluminum a day,

possibly much more. In addition, if your intake of fluoride is significant, which is certain in areas where it is added to drinking water, it can many times increase absorption of aluminum by your body.

Various symptoms and diseases are attributable to aluminum toxicity, but its damaging effect on the neural (brain) function is most firmly established. In its advanced stage, it produces the symptoms of a full-blown Alzheimer's disease (obviously, those regularly using antacids - and the elderly are the largest group that qualify - are at a particularly increased risk). It is also statistically linked to motor neuron disorder (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a.k.a. Lou Gehrig's disease) and Parkinson's.

Aluminum is so toxic to living organisms that it can kill fish when acid rains - which become acid when sulfur and nitrogen gases from auto and industrial emission combine with water into sulfuric and nitric acids - mobilize soil aluminum, taking it into closed water bodies.

The FDA is still trying to make up its mind as to what level of aluminum intake can be considered safe. Based on the 1997 study by Bishop et al., (New England Journal of Medicine), it has established 0.005mg/kg/day as the safe limit of parenteral aluminum intake for infants. Applied to an average grown up, it comes to about 0.3mg a day. Even if the safe level for adults is ten times higher, most folks are still ingesting

up to several times as much -

or more - of aluminum on daily basis.

Needles to say, avoiding anything that contains aluminum is highly recommendable. If you notice lapses in your short-term memory - possibly an early sign of developing Alzheimer's disease - it may be a good idea to test for your aluminum levels.

Arsenic toxicity

Arsenic pretty much sounds like something out of the real world, but don't be fooled - it is quite common. In fact, average daily intake in the U.S. is 0.05mg (for adults), mainly from foods.

How did it get in your food? Mostly from pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. But it is also in paints, cigarette smoke, wood preservatives, etc. Some northern U.S. areas (parts of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Dakotas and Michigan) have elevated arsenic levels in their drinking water as well.

All this refers to inorganic arsenic. Organic arsenic, mainly found in seafood (arsenobetaine), and dissolved in waters (dimethylarsinate), is bound within stable molecular structures, making it non-toxic to living organisms.

Similarly to the rest of xenobiotic metals (arsenic is semi-metallic), even the lowest levels can affect children, causing behavioral and emotional disturbances. As low arsenic intake as 0.0017mg a day, consumed with drinking water, can affect attention level in children, and twice as little can also affect memory (Wasserman et al. 2004).

In adults, when it accumulates sufficiently to disrupt body processes, it can cause cardiovascular or neurologic diseases, like peripheral neuropathy, aplastic anemia, liver disease, diabetes, Raynaud's syndrome, and possibly other serious diseases.

Arsenic is also known carcinogen, which was the reason for the government to lower its acceptable level to 10 ppb (parts per billion) in 2001. Arsenic cancer risk estimated for the previous maximum acceptable level of 50 ppb is 1 in 10015. It is not known how safe is the new standard in that respect, nor how efficiently it is enforced.

By interfering with energy production (oxidative phosphorylation) arsenic can cause chronic fatigue14.

Cadmium toxicity

Cadmium is in foods (from commercial fertilizers and water contamination), cigarette smoke, auto and industrial exhaust, soldering and welding fumes, paints, batteries, etc. Also, many occupations - from auto mechanics and welders to painters, and many others - have high cadmium exposure.

Average daily intake of cadmium in the U.S. is 0.03mg (1/15 as much is in a single cigarette). The intake is miniscule, but since the body cannot effectively dispose of it (cadmium half-life in the body is 25 years), it accumulates with time.

After a few decades, or much less (depending on the exposure level and individual sensitivity), this can result in a number of symptoms and diseases, from hypertension, migraines and ringing in the ears (this one sounds harmless, but may actually be result of cadmium-caused arterial disease) to depression, arthritis or cancer (cadmium's ability to produce testicular and prostate cancer is well known among researchers, and routinely used on laboratory rodents).

In children, cadmium exposure can result in a variety of symptoms, from behavioral disturbances to mental retardation.