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chemicals chemicals everywhere

So I got off the health kick wagon last night because we were at my old manager's sendoff party. And I had beer, and fried chicken and fried mozz sticks and ranch sauce. And then my allergies were particularly bad last night.

So I like to go to bookstores, and just pick up several books, and read them. Sometimes after skimming the first chapter I drop it. But one of the books I picked up last night, I managed to skim/read the whole thing at bookpeople. It's called: The Autoimmune epidemic. And it was pretty scary. Basically (and i didn't really know this), autoimmune means when your own immune system goes haywire and attacks your own body cells. This could be thyroid related, they attack your thyroid, or the myelin sheath in your nerve cells, which causes really bad things. MS and Lupus, and chronic fatigue, Type 1 diabetes, allergies are supposedly all in this category.

The book said that, iirc, 1 in 12 men, and 1 in 8 women will get an autoimmune disease, and that more people have it then cancer or heart disease. Hospitals and doctors see more and more patients in this category.

She talked about clusters, how people get MS or lupus in clusters geographically. And yet some people say they don't really know what causes these diseases still.

There was the "too clean" theory on allergies, the reason we have allergies is because we grew up in a too clean environment. But that doesn't explain babies and little kids who are already allergenic and have asthma.

So there was the "barrel theory", where you have this barrel where all the strange chemicals you eat, the estrogenic mimicking chemicals, pesticides, mercury, all go into this barrel. And as long as it doesn't overflow, you're fine. But the moment it flows over, then your immune system just cannot handle the onslaught, and it starts doing strange things, like attacking your own cells.

I remember hearing this barrel theory for Austin allergies. Most people are fine the first few years they move here, and then they can't handle cedar and oak anymore. The immune system gets over-active and over-enthusiastic. She explains that when you eat chemicals (which is in almost all processed food), the immune system has to decide what do with each of these chemicals. But sometimes some of these chemicals/foreign bacteria/fungus/etc are similar to some of your body cells, and the immune system gets confused, and attack your own body.

Apparently, the cord blood to fetuses now tests for so many chemicals, that your babies are born already carrying these chemicals in your bloodstream. American women breast milk carry 10 to 100 times higher toxins then European women.

Man, I've always been really into organic stuff, but this definitely pushes me further into that camp. I don't think a healthy immune system should react to tree pollen, or have food allergies.

I had my gross vegetable juice today. Throwing away my teflon pan.


Feb. 12th, 2010 09:31 pm (UTC)
I don't know if it's perceived. Even if you take the evolutionary thought: more children are born nowadays that in the past would've died in childbirth or before. Modern medicine makes people who have difficulties having kids, have multiple births. So just on the evolutionary sense, we have children who are weaker that could make them be prone to allergies.
Feb. 12th, 2010 10:57 pm (UTC)
I'm saying perceived because I have not seen the increase substantiated with data from actual medical diagnoses. Whenever I've read about it, the claim has been based on anecdotes.

Also, I know of no reason why (once prevented) death in childbirth or infertility would cause weakness in surviving adults or toddlers/children. I know of even less reason why such things would manifest as autoimmune disorders. I don't think the amounts of people having modern medicine induced multiple births is nearly large enough to affect evolution yet. In vitro is very expensive, which creates a natural limit on how many people can use it.
Feb. 12th, 2010 11:00 pm (UTC)
Well, I'm sure we'll get the data on our generation when we're grandparents, but I know on my side, I will try to avoid synthetic chemicals when I can.

Anyways, I thought the book was very good, if you're really interested in knowing more, I would recommend reading it.