Monday, May 18, 2009

DNA Damage Happens in as Few as 3 Days from Air Pollution

It's a not-so-well-known fact that Salt Lake City has really bad, polluted air. The worst cities for short-term particle pollution included Salt Lake City (#6) and Logan, Utah, a city to the north (at #8). Pittsburgh, PA (#1), Fresno, CA (#2), Bakersfield, CA (#3), Los Angeles, CA (#4), and Birmingham, AL (#5) were the cities with worse air than Salt Lake City.

Why such bad air in a state known for pristine snowpack (think: winter Olympics) and the haven of outdoorsy folks of all kinds?

Alas, nasty particulates from from the state's many coal-burning power plants (which release loads of mercury), the Kennecott Copper Mine and Refinery (which ranks among the dirtiest plants with respect to total environmental and cancer risk releases), along with sundry West Coast pollution (blown in and trapped by the Wasatch Mountains) all contribute to the bad air.

So, what does "short-term particle pollution" actually mean? According to reporting:

"Communities ranking high on this list have short-term spikes in particle pollution that can last anywhere from a few hours to several days. And it's these short-term spikes that increase the number of emergency room visits for asthma and other respiratory diseases, along with upping the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and early death among residents."

And, why is this so important to consider, especially if you don't live in Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, or Salt Lake City?

When I read today that environmental toxins can damage cellular DNA in a little as three days, I gasped (yes, a deep breath of contaminated air here in Salt Lake City). Reports of bouts of allergies may, in fact, have a lot more to do with toxic particles in the air than pollen. And, short-term exposures, even in normally cleaner air communities, can be quite damaging.

According to research out of the University of Milan, after only three days of exposure to high levels of pollution, negative changes occurred in four genes that have been linked to tumor suppression.

It's crazy hard to keep up with what's affecting our poor bodies (soils depleted of trace minerals, foods contaminated with pesticides, air pollution, toxic fumes from carpets and glues off-gassin, and on and on).

My take these days (and my dear friend, Dr. Hugo Rodier's long-held view) is that our bodies need all the help they can get with detoxification. Simple things help--like drinking lots of water, eating lots of fiber, and eating cruciferous veggies (with I3C, a potent detoxifier) help. Saunas help, a lot!

And, supplementing with well-studied detoxifiers found in our Constant Health formula, like milk thistle, glycine, glutamine, n-acetyl-cysteine, curcumin, calcium-d-glucarate (another source of I3C), and soluble fibers like apple pectin and guar gum all support detoxifying the body.

New research on reversing DNA damage will inevitably focus on developing cancer drugs. That will take a long time and a lot of money and side effects will be unknown. Until then, consider protecting your cells against damage through nutritional early interventions.

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