Why choosing “Non-Toxic” is not only good for you, it’s good for your grandkids (and great-grands…)
A new study seems to say that the genes we inherit and pass on are not entirely a product of simple reproduction. They are also influenced by the toxicants we are exposed to by accident, or even as a result of ignorant or uninformed choice.
The title “Multiple generation distinct toxicant exposures induce epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of enhanced pathology and obesity” is very foreboding and makes me think, how are there any “normal” kids born at all?
It seems that each generation in the US (and probably world-wide) faces a different main toxin. For example, the insecticide DDT was a major concern in the 1950s and 1960s, followed by plastics starting in the 1970s, dioxins in the 1960s and 1970s, and then the fungicide vinclozolin and herbicides glyphosate (Roundup) and atrazine in the 1980s (still used). Researchers used rats to approximate the genetic effects by injecting them with agricultural fungicide vinclozolin in generation 0, jet fuel in generation 1, and then then pesticide dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) in generation 2. They then continued to breed the rats to generations 3, 4 and 5 to analyze the changes in their genetics and pathologies that presented.
Some results from the study:
- The diseases were not all “additive” meaning that each successive generation had a higher chance of acquiring them, or worse prognosis. It varied per disease; for example, kidney and ovary pathologies tended to reach a maximum and plateau; however, obesity tended to become more additive with each generation’s exposure to toxicants.
- Females seemed to be more affected in later generations than males.
- Generally, higher pathology was observed in the F4 and F5 generations.
- Multigenerational exposure to distinct toxicant exposures promoted transgenerational inheritance of higher disease frequency for nearly all the different diseases examined.
Wow, given that each generation (and nowadays probably more accurately, each decade) is exposed to new toxicants, we really are stepping through a minefield when deciding where to live, what to do for a living, which personal products to use, which cleaning products to use, and even which food to eat. The consequences show up not just in our generation–we are reaping what our grandparents sowed and we are sowing for our grandkids. The same effects seem to be present for electromagnetic fields (EMF), as Barrie Trower, physicist and Royal Navy microwave weapons expert on EMF radiation, has warned (see our article here).
Finally, I’ll try to end the doomsday thinking with this: “normality” or lack of genetic damage is probably a privilege given that avoiding toxins actually costs A LOT. Here are some of the headlines that bolster this conclusion:
- In a 2012 study examining race- and income-based disparities in cancer risks from air toxics in Cancer Alley, Louisiana, cancer risk of air toxics not only disproportionately affects socioeconomically disadvantaged and racial minority communities, but there is a gradient effect within these groups with poorer and higher minority concentrated segments being more affected than their counterparts.
- The lack of clean drinking water in Jackson, Mississippi seems to be a complex story of population decline, poverty, racism, politics, mismanagement and theft. (Jackson water crisis flows from century of poverty, neglect and racism)
- About 73 million people live within 3 miles of a Superfund site. Compared to the general population, the population within this range is more low-income, has more indigenous and people of color and is more burdened by other environmental stressors (e.g., poor air quality, lead paint, etc.). (Supporting Environmental Justice at Superfund Sites)
- Most people agree that organic foods are better for your health than non-organic. However, it costs on average 21% more to buy organic, with the majority of cost difference in meats. (How Much More Do Organic Groceries Cost?)
Despite the socioeconomic barriers to health, I think the best tool for achieving multi-generational health is research, knowledge and a “healthy” skepticism of heavily-marketed products or ideas. Erring on the side of caution is a good thing! Is there reasonable concern over drinking water purity? When you can, buy or purify your water. Is there reasonable concern over air quality? When you can, use a mask or air purifiers. Is there reasonable concern over food quality? When you can, purchase the foods that you believe are safe. Genetically, at least, it is true that “The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge.” Look out for the sour grapes! Additionally, if you have the means, you can get your DNA analyzed so that you can make lifestyle changes to promote the best outcome in whatever weaknesses are found. For those who don’t have the means to buy an analysis, there are studies and trials that may be free. Thankfully, DNA tools are no more the exclusive domain of the scientific research community, so the news doesn’t have to be all bad.