Mercury and Toxic Metal Problems

In the distant past medical concern over metal toxicity was limited to sudden dramatic exposure e.g. an industrial accident. More recently concern has been about persistent, recurrent low-level exposure. Nowadays toxic metals are in our atmosphere, waters, soil and food chain. We need to deal with their presence.

Toxic heavy metals cause problems is by displacing or replacing related minerals required for essential body functions e.g. cadmium may displace zinc, lead may replace calcium.. Elimination of the toxic elements is also difficult for the body and the toxic metals go on to disturb other body functions.

Testing and treatment for a possible for a toxic metal problem?
A test-dose of DMSA (a non-toxic oral chelating agent which binds with heavy metals and removes them through the bloodstream and urinary tract) is given and a before‚Äďand-after urine is tested by the laboratory. The increased level of toxic metals in the second relative to the first sample is measured which enables the toxic metal load to be assessed and also confirms whether the DMSA is likely to be an effective chelating agent in that person. DMSA crosses the blood-brain barrier removing mercury, lead, aluminium, cadmium, arsenic, mercury and nickel. It is considered likely that it detoxifies the hypothalamus and the pituitary. DMSA also binds copper, iron, manganese, silver, tin and zinc. If DMSA is used for treatment it must be administered under the supervision of a doctor, and, because it removes some healthy trace minerals, these minerals must be supplemented during therapy.

International consensus on potentially toxic metals and human health has not yet been reached.
Norway, Seweden and Denmark have totally banned mercury fillings. Norwegian Minister of the Environment Erik Solheim said, "Mercury is among the most dangerous environmental toxins." The US Environmental Protection Agency, warns gravely of the dangers of mercury toxicity from incinerators but nothing is being done in the U.S. to reduce the use of (mercury-containing) dental amalgams.

Some toxic metals.
Aluminum: probably the least toxic but, in Alzheimer's disease, there are increased aluminium levels in the brain tissue.
Cadmium: With aging, cadmium accumulates in the kidneys and may predispose to hypertension. It does not enter the brain or the fetus nor is it present in breast milk.
Mercury is widely used in industry, agriculture, and health care. Mercury enters the human body by inhalation or swallowing; mercury can enter the foetus and breast milk; the kidneys store about 50 percent of the body mercury but the blood, bones, liver, spleen, brain, and fat tissue also hold mercury. Symptoms vary depending on the type of mercury, whether inhaled or swallowed, whether the exposure was once-off dose or a persistent repetitive low-dose one. Symptoms vary widely and include abdominal, central nervous system , respiratory (e.g. fever, chills, coughing, and chest pain). Low-level, long-term exposure, generally may cause more subtle symptoms such as fatigue, headache, insomnia, nervousness, impaired judgment and coordination, emotional instability, and loss of sex drive.
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