Lab testing for Cadmium & Arsenic

There are some problems with the testing that is being done for both arsenic & cadmium right now in Portland.

1) Cadmium:
The testing that ARUP is doing with regards to cadmium is not sensitive enough. The problem is that the state (OHA) has adopted the EPA’s levels for safe. But the research does not support those levels. The research shows that a urine cadmium > 0.5 mcg/g creatinine in adults, increases the risk of all sorts of conditions (including lots of cancers, osteoporosis, hypertension, diabetes. . . . ).
ARUP is only testing to 3.0 in adults, which is obviously much higher than 0.5. And that is more than double what the CDC found testing random folks (see the CDC NHANES below). So if you’ve gotten a test result back that just says “not detected below 3.0”, you need another test.

2) Arsenic:
The problem with arsenic is that there are 2 main forms – organic & inorganic. The organic arsenic is pretty harmless. It comes from seafood & button mushrooms. If you avoid this for 4 days or so, the urine test you do after that should just be inorganic arsenic.

Inorganic arsenic is not safe above 15-17 mcg/L. And in fact, this is once again what the CDC found in testing random folks. However, if you are just testing total arsenic and not avoiding seafood or button mushrooms, you may get a much higher level.

3) CDC NHANES 4th report:
This is the fouth national report on human exposure to environmental chemicals. Made by the CDC. They collected blood & urine on thousands of folks and analyzed it for lots of different chemicals. Then they published it. It is over 1000 pages long and it contains values of blood & urine for adults & kids for both cadmium & arsenic, starting in 1999.

The way to read it is as follows: find the thing that you are looking for (eg: urine cadmium). Make sure that you are looking at the right one: blood or urine – total or creatinine corrected. On the left there will be various categories – years tested, ages, race/ethnicities, smokers, non-smokers, etc. Across the top you will see percentiles. Find the number you are comparing & see what percentile it compares to. If the percentile is 90th% – that means that 90% of folks tested were at or below that number. That means you are in the top 10% highest.

For urine cadmium, creatinine corrected, the 95% is at or below 1.0 mcg/g creatinine (page 216). So 95% of folks all across the USA are below 1.0 – so then why are we only being tested to 3.0 mcg/gm creatinine? You will also see that kids 6-11 yrs old are only at 0.2 mcg/gm creatinine. Much lower than the 1.0 mcg/gm creatinine that ARUP is testing for.

4) Finally:
All testing is flawed when it comes to answering the following questions:
– what was I exposed to?
– how much is still in my body?
– are my health problems caused by this?
The reason why is this: there is no actual way to show how much you’ve been exposed to and there is no way to tell how much you still have in you. We can only use the tests as guidelines.
For example: arsenic. Inorganic arsenic needs to be methylated in order to become non toxic. In fact, it needs to be methylated several times and some of those intermediate forms are even more toxic and we can’t test for those intermediate forms. If you were exposed to arsenic, the arsenic comes into the body, does its damage, gets methylated multiple times, and then leaves. If you are tested weeks after the exposure, you may look to have normal amounts of arsenic – but you may have had elevated levels for years prior to this.

And we all come to these exposures with our own abilities to clear toxins (methylate, etc). That is why 2 folks living in the same home with the same exposures can have such different lab results & even different health concerns.

So, talk to your doctor about your values. And check out your numbers compared to the rest of the US in the NHANES 4th report which you can find here:

Cadmium & Arsenic in SE Portland Air

Cadmium & Arsenic – How To Help Yourself And Your Family

Due to the recent release of cadmium and arsenic, many SE Portland residents are wondering what they can do to protect themselves and their families. While the release is over for now, the high levels will persist in the environment and in our bodies for some time.

1. Shoe-Free Home
Inside air is often much more toxic than outdoor air, because we track toxins into our home and then they stay there, getting more concentrated over time. Leave your shoes by the door so you don’t bring outside pollutants into your living space.

2. Air Filter in the Bedroom
We spend more time in our bedroom than any other room in our house. If we can reduce the exposures we get while sleeping, we can reduce our overall toxic load. We are not only exposed to things that are being carried into our homes on our shoes or clothing, but we are also breathing air that is coming in from outside. Anyone living within a mile of a major road will have increased levels of benzene and other toxins inside their homes – which have been linked to many health issues including asthma and cancers. Air purifiers such as Blue Air, Austin Air, and IQ Air are extremely helpful at reducing these.

3. Get Your Soil Tested
If you have a vegetable garden or grow fruit trees, get your soil tested for heavy metals. Plants are efficient at sucking up toxins from the soil, especially metals, which will give you a good dose if eaten.

4. Get Tested
If you want to know what is already in your body or in the bodies of your children, you need to get tested. However, it is important to know what various tests can and can’t tell you.

Arsenic: Most arsenic in the blood will disappear in just a few days, but can remain in your body for much longer. Your ability to get it out of the rest of your body depends on your ability to detoxify it (genetics, exposure, and other factors). To test for arsenic in your body, follow a specific protocol that involves taking a chelator, and then having a urine test after chelation. A chelator is a substance that forms a tight bond with a metal. The chelator will “grab onto” the arsenic, pull it out of your body, and deposit it into your urine, which can then be tested to give an idea of how much arsenic is in your body. There are different chelators, some are taken orally and some are administered intravenously.

Cadmium: gets deposited primarily in the liver and kidneys. It is hard for your body to remove cadmium, so it can stay in your organs for 25 years or more, while the cadmium in your blood disappears much more rapidly. This means that a blood test will just show you what you’ve been exposed to recently. For cadmium, a urine sample will give you a sense of how much cadmium is sitting in the kidneys and a urine test after chelation will give you a better sense of body burden.

Treatment (with qualified medical supervision)
5. Chelation
The only way to remove toxic metals from the body is to go through a process of chelation: taking a chelator to bind the toxic metals and then replacing your minerals, cycled until your levels of toxic metals are low. In addition you want to support your bodies ability to eliminate metals and you want to protect your organs from the damage of the metals.

6. Supplements
Glutathione: If you are only going to take one supplement, that supplement should be glutathione. Glutathione is naturally produced by your body, is a master anti-oxidant, and helps eliminate both cadmium and arsenic. If you have high exposures to toxic metals, your body will use up its glutathione and, even worse, the metals themselves will damage and prevent your body from being able to make glutathione.

Unfortunately, most glutathione supplements are not well absorbed. Intravenous glutathione will bypass the need for oral absorption, but there are also two oral supplements that I have seen work clinically: Redi-Sorb’s Liposomal Glutathione Liquid; and Pure Encapsulations’s Liposomal Glutathione capsules.

Minerals: Zinc, Selenium, Calcium, and Magnesium, and if testing shows that you are deficient, Iron, which all protect your body from cadmium damage.

Vitamin D: Cadmium impairs vitamin D metabolism, which can reduce bone density.

Methyl Donors: such as Methyl B-12, SAMe, and N-acetyl Cysteine (NAC), are required to get arsenic out of the body.

7. Saunas & Colonics
Both of these will help to move heavy metals out of your body. And they will be much more effective if done in conjunction with taking a chelator.

8. Don’t Trust a Quick Fix
There are a lot of products advertised on the internet that promise to reduce your toxic metal levels. These include: modified citrus pectin, or chlorella, or zeolite. They don’t work. Cadmium is stored inside the cell and tends to localize inside of the kidney. None of these items have been shown to reduce cadmium levels in the body once it has been stored. The only thing that lowers toxic metal levels is taking a chelator specific for the metals you are trying to reduce. And doing that repeatedly in cycles until your levels are down.

You Can Reduce The Levels of Toxic Metals in Your Body!
. . . and your risks of all the diseases that are associated with elevated cadmium and arsenic and other toxic metals like lead and mercury. Work with a physician who is trained in environmental medicine and make a plan specific for you, to replete your body and get the toxins out.

Blood Sugar & Cancer

I have had a recent surge in patients with elevated blood sugar at the time of their cancer diagnosis. Many of them had no idea that they had high blood sugar. In fact, they’d always been told their blood sugar was normal on routine blood testing. And many of them ate fairly healthy diets, even low in refined sugar.

So what did I find and why?

I test everyone for hemoglobin A1C. This is a test that looks at red blood cells to see how much they are “glycosylated”, a change that happens to the red blood cells when they are around sugar. Red blood cells live on average for 3 months, so the amount they are glycosylated tells us how elevated someone’s blood sugar has been over the past 3 months.

Blood sugar can be elevated for several different reasons. Diet is the obvious one. Eat a diet high in refined sugar or refined flours and you will have elevated blood sugar. Stress is another one. When you are under stress, you body responds by elevating cortisol. Cortisol in turn causes your liver to increase glucose production & inhibit insulin production (the hormone you need to lower your blood glucose). Remember, if you think of stress in terms of a tiger attacking you, you want to have lots of glucose to be able to run away quickly. However, if the stress is because your child is driving you nuts, your boss won’t promote you, or the morning traffic won’t let up, you will have high amounts of circulating glucose with no muscles using them up. We also have genetic variability: some of us have inherited tendencies to not be able to manage our blood sugar well.

What’s the problem with high blood sugar?

With cancer, the problem is many-sided. Cancer is a big consumer of glucose and if you have high blood sugar, you are giving cancer a free ride. Elevated blood sugar is also linked to decreased effectiveness of treatments: radiation, chemotherapy, even surgery. Studies have shown that people with elevated blood sugar at the time of these cancer treatments are less likely to respond to the treatments and are more likely to have a cancer recurrence afterwards.

Metformin is a drug that lowers blood sugar. It was recently in the news because doctors were noticing that people who were on metformin had a lower incidence of being diagnosed with cancer. I don’t believe that metformin is the new cancer cure. However, I do believe that understanding your body and getting to the root of imbalances is the ultimate way to stay healthy. And if you have high blood sugar, it is imperative that you find a way to bring it back down.