In a recent news report, it was noted that the incidence of cancer and other diseases among America’s children is rising. The cause of this is uncertain although researchers suggest a possible relationship between childhood disease, obesity and the environmental “soup” of thousands of mostly untested industrial chemicals.
The Environmental Protection Agency indicates that there are 85, 000 chemicals registered with them for commercial use in this country. Dr. Philip Landrigan, director for the Center for Children’s Health at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York, noted that virtually all of these chemicals did not exist before the 1960s and most have not been sufficiently tested for their effects on human beings.
Sadly, only a tiny portion of these chemicals have gone through any regulatory testing. Dr. Landrigan indicates that there has been a 25% rise in the incidence of childhood leukemia since the 1960s along with a 21% increase in brain cancer in children. Dr. Landrigan adds “while we have focused on treating cancer, we have not kept our eyes on the causes.”
Dr. Landrigan also warned of “endocrine disrupting” chemicals which may be linked to premature puberty in girls, growing numbers of testicular cancer in boys and penis malformation, a condition known as hypospadia. For example, in one study, the incidence of hypospadia doubled from approximately 40 incidences per 10,000 live boy births to around 80 incidences per 10,000 in the Atlanta area between 1968 and 1983.
Reports like this can be very discouraging. It is obviously unrealistic for us to totally insulate our children from exposure to these chemicals since they are in our every day environment. These chemicals are in our homes, in our clothing, in our food, water and air.
The need for proper nutrition and optimal immune function is more important than ever. As just one small example, in a study earlier this year, British researchers found that learning disabled children with symptoms of dyslexia and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) seemed to behave better and had improved thinking when their diets were supplemented with fatty acids. The findings were noted from a three-month pilot trial performed in Great Britain. In the study, 41 boys and girls ages eight to twelve years old took a supplement made of fatty acids from fish oil (EPA and DHA) and Evening Primrose Oil (GLA and linoleic acid). Researchers noted that a variety of symptoms characteristic of ADHD improved in the children receiving the fatty acids mixture compared with an olive oil placebo. Researchers indicated that these fatty acids are often underconsumed or underproduced in our children with behavioral and learning challenges.
Who knows what effect the chemicals in our environment are having on young growing brains? There is no question that Attention Deficit Disorder and similar type conditions seem to be skyrocketing.
My recommendations are three fold:
- Make sure your children or grandchildren learn the value of proper nutrition. Teach them that fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and fish are healthy, prevent disease and build strong muscles/bones. Teach them fried foods, fast food, processed food, candy and high sugar desserts are harmful to their health.
- Use air and water filters. Make sure the water filter is rated at 1 micron or less. Many of the most dangerous organisms (protozoa, cysts, bacteria, anthrax, etc.) that can kill or harm are 1 to 3 microns and most water filters only filter down to 10 or 5 microns. Also, the water filter should use carbon to remove chemicals. The water filter should also have a meter that monitors consumption and warns you when to change the filter. Many people continue to use their filters when they are no longer effective. Some studies indicate the chlorine exposure from your shower is worse than drinking it.
- Teach your children/grandchildren to use high quality nutritional supplements.