No this is not new math, nor is it even just estimating. This is what happens when two substances come together. The end results are greater than the two individually. This is called synergy.
Have you ever actually read much information about the true “reality” of what happens when two toxic substances combine in your body? Probably not since most “studies” and “tests” are only performed on one substance at a time.
We are going to give you a two-part blog on the “positive” aspects of something known as synergy and the “negative” aspects of synergy as well.
This article will discuss how synergy works when combining toxic substances. Next week you will be pleasantly surprised at the positive effects synergy has when combining two healthful substances.
Synergism comes from the Greek word “synergos” meaning working together. A synergistic effect is the situation where the combined effect of two items is much greater than the sum of the effects of each agent given alone. (A type of “when is one plus one greater than two” effect).
Exposure to mercury has been tested and is known to cause certain detrimental effects on the body. However, have you ever seen the results of mercury with lead? The results are astounding.
- Mercury will kill 1 out of 100 rats.
- Lead will kill 1 out of 100 rats.
- Combine them and 100% of exposed rats will die.
In the science of toxicology, synergism refers to the effect caused when exposure to two or more chemicals at a time results in health effects that are greater than the sum of the effects of the individual chemicals.
Long-term exposure to multiple chemicals can have cumulative effects and may affect the susceptibility of humans to diseases in ways that are not well-understood. In addition, virtually nothing is known about the cumulative impacts of chemicals combined with other stressors such as diet, poverty, physical stress, mental stress, etc.
Have You Ever:
- Consumed sugar while unintentionally inhaling second hand cigarette smoke?
- Received a vaccination? (the very fact that you have testosterone in your body can set you up for a reaction)
- Eaten food that is not only conventionally grown (meaning it may have added hormones) but is also genetically modified?
- Consumed both sugar and food coloring?
- Used over the counter drugs and may already have heavy metal toxicity?
- Had an antibiotic knowing you also suffer from candida?
People are continuously exposed to a wide variety of chemical substances, biological agents, physical agents, and other stressors.
Each stressor alone has the potential to cause a physiological effect.
A Few Examples of Daily Stressors Are:
- Automotive exhaust
- Cleaning products
- Chemicals in treated water
- Consumption of alcohol or tobacco
- Environmental pollution
- Insect repellents
- Prescription drugs
- Psychological stress
- Social stress
- Ultraviolet radiation
- Whole-body vibration
Exposures can happen one after the other, or all at once.
Combinations can produce:
- Consequences that may be significantly different than would be expected from individual exposures.
- A range of combined acute and chronic effects.
- Effects that can appear immediately or sometime later.
- Increased or unexpected harmful effects — including entirely new kinds of effects.
The possible combinations of exposure are huge and knowledge is limited about the effects of mixed exposures.
Individual susceptibility adds to the complexity of exposure and resulting outcomes.
Toxic Household Check:
- What color are your paper towels?
- What color of muffin liners do you use?
- Do you use aluminum cookie sheets, rice cooker or other cooking apparatus?
- Where do you store your cleaning supplies? Are they toxic?
- Do you use dryer sheets?
- Do you use lead based candles for burning?
- Do you use air purifiers—from a can, electrical or otherwise?
- What color is your toilet paper?
- What color are your tissues?
- What type of container do you carry your water in?
- Take a few minutes and explore everything that comes in contact with your skin.
Examples of Deadly Combinations You May Experience Each Day:
- Plastic bottles and heat
- Fluoride and aluminum
- Non-stick pans and heat
- Mercury with water
- Food coloring and aspartame
- Food coloring with MSG or any other neurotoxin
- Mercury with aluminum
- Mercury with testosterone
- Exposure to noise and the solvent toluene results in a higherrisk of hearing loss than exposure to either stressor alone.
- Common food colors are synergistically neurotoxicwith flavor enhancers at levels gotten from a typical snack and drink.
- Exposure to carbon monoxide and methylene chloride produces elevated levels of carboxyhemoglobin that reduce the blood’s ability to carry oxygen.
- Aluminum, copper, lead, mercury, and cadmium can be found in mussels at levels that, individually, are considered below the threshold of toxic harm. But these metals act synergistically with low concentrations of the mussel’s own okadaic acid to kill cells.
- Viruses can increase susceptibility to heavy metals. And vice versa.
- In one study viral infection increased the uptake of PBDE.
- PBDEs, PCBs, and methylmercury are each synergistically toxic with the others. Very low exposures combine to induce greater than expected harm.
- In general, metals have synergistic toxicity — and organic metals have synergistic toxicity with organic compounds. Research indicates that low PCB exposure while in the womb, in combination with low exposure to methylmercury and lead, results in cognitive impairment.
- Exposure to a combination of 1 PCB, 2 dioxins, and 3 different pesticides means a person is 38x more likely to develop type-II diabetes than someone exposed to just 1 of the chemicals.
- Lupus clusters — the localized outbreaks of lupus at rates much higher than in the general population are associated with sites generating multiple chemical exposure. In one example the rate of lupus was 30x to 99x higher for people living in a 6-block area built atop a retired oil field waste pit. Key contaminants were determined to be mercury, pristane, and phytane.
- Tungsten and cobalt together can be carcinogenic and together have been found to rapidly accelerate the growth of human leukemia cells.
- Titanium dioxide nanoparticles are being used in an expanding range of products. These nanoparticles have been observed to greatly enhance the accumulation of cadmium in fish.
- Melamine and cyanuric acid are both considered non-toxic at low doses. But if those low doses combine in the kidneys, a fatal amount of crystals can form. Melamine and cyanuric acid were added to wheat gluten used as an ingredient in animal chows that caused the death of hundreds of pets in early 2007. Similar meals have been fed to farmed chickens, pigs, and fish. In September 2008 melamine was identified in at least 22 brands of Asian baby formula after an unusually high incidence of kidney stones were reported in infants, including several deaths. In November 2008 melamine and/or cyanuric acid were identified in several major brands of U.S. baby formula (Abbot Labs = Similac, Mead Johnson = Enfamil, Nestle = Good Start). Initially the FDA stated that any amount of exposure to melamine is unsafe for infants, but later asserted that 1 ppm melamine or 1 ppm cyanuric acid is safe as long as both chemicals are not present at the same time. Whether these levels are truly safe enough for infants remains unknown.
- Rats who drank milk retained 2x more mercury in their bodies than rats who didn’t.
- The dust shed by automotive tires contains a mixture of chemicals. These chemicals act in synergy with each other.
- Microscopic particles in diesel exhaust combine with lipids in cholesterol to activate genes that trigger inflammation of blood vessels, in turn leading to atherosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes.
- Thallium is synergistically toxic with sodium hydrogen phosphate, a buffering agent commonly used in vaccines.
- Phthalates from cosmetics and vinyl plastic
- Brominated flame retardants (PBDEs) from televisions and furniture,
- Perfluorinated chemicals from stain-resistant and non-stick coatings
- Bisphenol-A from reusable water bottles and baby bottles
- Toxic metals such as lead, mercury and arsenic
Using current methods, laboratory tests for synergistic and cumulative effects, are impractical because of the high costs in time and money that would be required. Testing just one dose of the top 1,000 high volume chemicals in three-way combinations would require 166 million different experiments. Testing all the three-way combinations would take over 180 years to complete, if each experiment took one hour to conduct and 100 laboratories worked non-stop.
Lack of Testing
Not only are current scientific methods not well-suited to studying the safety of combinations of chemicals, the individual chemical testing we do perform is woefully inadequate in relation to the real world. Most chemicals that are used in commerce have not been lab tested. Nor have they been the focus of an epidemiological study to look for evidence of harmful effects in humans. How many of the 75,000 chemicals in commerce have actually been tested for their toxicity?
The Environmental Defense analyzed a sample of 100 chemicals out of a total number of 3,000 high production volume (HPV) chemicals (chemicals that are produced in quantities of 1 million pounds or more per year). The EDF report found the following:
|•||For 71% of the HPV chemicals we do not have in the public record even the simplest health and safety facts. This means that only 29% of high-volume chemicals had basic health hazard screening data, as established by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.|
|•||Of the sampled chemicals known to be released into the environment — the Toxic Release Inventory chemicals — 51% are not even minimally screened for health hazards. This means that even for chemicals which have at least one recognized health hazard, we generally don’t know if they have other health hazards because they have not been adequately screened.|
|•||Carcinogenicity tests are missing for 63% of HPV chemicals.|
|•||Reproductive toxicity tests are missing for 53% of HPV chemicals.|
|•||Neurotoxicity tests are missing for 67% of HPV chemicals.|
|•||Immune system toxicity tests are missing for 86% of HPV chemicals.|
|•||Studies for assessing impacts on children have not been done for more than 90% of HPV chemicals.|
|•||58% of the sampled HPV chemicals have not been tested for any form of chronic toxicity.|
The Chemical Manufacturers Association (CMA), now called the American Chemistry Council, the main chemical industry trade association, acting on a challenge from EDF to conduct its own screening tests and make them available to the public, analyzed the same sample of HPV chemicals. The CMA found that 47% of the same 100 chemicals had a full screening set. While more optimistic than EDF’s finding of 29%, this figure still confirms that less than half of chemicals have even the minimum screening tests.
The EPA analyzed a much larger sample (2,863) from the 3,000 HPV chemicals. They found that only 7% had a full screening set, while 43% lacked even basic screening data.
Why Environmental Health Research is Limited
Environmental health research is limited in determining the effect of a broad range of industrial toxicants on the general human population for the following reasons:
There are too many chemicals in commercial use. Science cannot keep up with the introduction of 1,000 new substances to the market each year and the 70,000 plus chemicals in commerce. New chemicals that have come on the market since 1980 represent less than 1% by volume of all chemicals on the market today.
It may seem that we continue to focus on diet and nutrition – but as is evidenced above, with all of the factors and variables playing against our desire to maintain our health, we must stay in control of the few areas in our lives that we still can control—one of which is our eating habits.
Aging in and of itself can set us up for a weaker immune system, especially if we are in the 20% category of the population that cannot eliminate heavy metals well. However, in spite of that, or because of that, we must maintain a daily pattern of ingesting quality water, foods, air and whole food supplementation to counteract the environmental, viral and other burdens that are trying to break us.
For further study of Synergistic Toxicity see below.
Additional Potentially Damaging Synergistic Combinations:
The sources for body burden are everywhere — industry, foods, and many that are so obvious, we can’t even see them!
At least 75,000+ chemicals are used extensively and 43,000,000+ are cataloged.
Approximately 1,000 new chemicals are introduced each year. Inadequate data exists regarding the chronic (long term, low level) health risks of most chemicals.
‘The dose makes the poison’ is generally regarded as simple and true assuming that if a dose is low enough to cause no effect, there seems no reason to test lower doses. Chemical safety policies are based on this 600-year-old premise. ‘Safe’ levels of exposure are based on the lowest levels tested with no effect. Now we realize harm can occur at much lower thresholds than previously considered possible.
Toxological data typically describes the effect of a chemical when it is isolated from as many variables as possible. In the real world, pollutants interact in complex mixtures and conditions. A wide range of variables are at play, and chemicals can behave very differently when combined with other chemicals. Harm can be amplified when chemicals are combined.
Synergistic toxicity is common. Even the body’s own natural chemicals, such as hormones, can enhance synergistic toxicity. Heavy metals, organophosphates, and other chemicals damage cells by excitotoxic activity. Excitotoxins are deliberately added to a wide range of foods and drugs. Excitotoxins increase synergistic toxicity. Genetic susceptibility plays a role in body burden. For instance roughly 20% of the population have genetic inability to excrete heavy metals effectively.
Their toxic burden accumulates faster and their illnesses are more obvious. They are the “canaries in a coal mine” in an environment that is increasingly toxic.
New evidence is showing that each person has an individualized genome — a unique pattern of whole DNA sections gained or lost. Some chemicals change genes and epigenes immediately. Some of these genetic changes become permanent and are passed down in heredity.
Viruses, bacteria, yeasts, parasites, and mold aggravate body burden at any stage of life. Research is revealing that some microorganisms interact directly with chemicals to boost infection.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is running the National Biomonitoring Program (NBP) started in 1998. Every two years the NBP attempts to assess exposure to environmental chemicals in the general U.S. population. The more chemicals they look for, the more they find. Data shows people typically carry at least half of the 200+ toxic chemicals monitored.
Chemicals have been detected in the placenta, umbilical cord blood, bloodstream, and body fat of infants as well as in the human breast milk they drink. This study found babies averaging over 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in their umbilical cord blood, with 287 chemicals total.
A study in Maine found adults had measurable levels of 36 toxic chemicals in their bodies including:
In 2007, California launched the nation’s first statewide biomonitoring program.
There are new reports every two years.
The spectrum of both ‘rare’ and ‘common’ illnesses is on the rise. The connection with body burden is growing clearer. The NIH defines a rare disease as one affecting 200,000 or fewer Americans. 25 to 30 million Americans suffer from one of the nearly 6,800 identified rare diseases. That rivals the 40 million Americans with one or more of the three “major” diseases: heart disease, cancer or diabetes.
Developing fetuses and infants are the most vulnerable. The cost is colossal.
Toxics that were banned decades ago persist in the soil, air and water. They can still pass through the skin, nostrils or mucus membranes and into the bloodstream and body tissue. An example is in a Washington state study, where ALL participants had detectable levels of PCBs, while 8 out of 10 had DDT in their blood.
The problem will multiply without a new course of action. For example, the Kid-Safe Chemicals Act (KSCA) seeks to overhaul the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). This legislation requires chemicals to be proven safe before entering the market or to remain in commerce.
Each person’s body burden is likely to fluctuate over the course of hours, months, and years depending on their particular exposures and metabolism. The science of body burden is complex and still in early stages. The synergistic combinations are boggling. The long-term impact of exposure to these ‘trace’ level combinations is unknown. ‘Unknown” is not equivalent to “seems to be safe”.
The old-fashioned saying that “the dose makes the poison” must now be updated to reflect other factors that determine toxicity — timing, combinations, and each individual’s unique metabolism.
Knowledge really is power, but only if you use it responsibly.