Archives for November 2017

The Interwoven Global Epidemics of Mercury Toxicity and Autism

In October 2017, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. published an article on the website of the World Mercury Project about one of CONEM’s studies (1). Kennedy is the son of former New York senator and U.S. attorney general Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of former President John F. Kennedy. He is an attorney, environmental activist and syndicated talk radio host. 

The Interwoven Global Epidemics of Mercury Toxicity and Autism

Metals wreak havoc on living systems, including humans, animals and plants alike. RFK, Jr. discusses a new review article in Environmental Research and pulls together a wide body of literature with the aim of summing up current research and emerging trends about the global epidemics of toxicity and autism.

Reference

1. Bjørklund G, Dadar M, Mutter J, Aaseth J. The toxicology of mercury: Current research and emerging trends. Environ Res 2017; 159: 545-554.

 

Dental Amalgams and Chronic Disease

Working with a team of American researchers, we published in 2014 a review about the association between dental amalgams and chronic disease (1). The following is a summary:

“The purpose of this review is to examine the evidence for a relationship between mercury (Hg) exposure from dental amalgams and certain idiopathic chronic illnesses–chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), fibromyalgia (FM), depression, anxiety, and suicide. Dental amalgam is a commonly used dental restorative material that contains approximately 50% elemental mercury (Hg0) by weight and releases Hg0 vapor. Studies have shown that chronic Hg exposure from various sources including dental amalgams is associated with numerous health complaints, including fatigue, anxiety, and depression–and these are among the main symptoms that are associated with CFS and FM. In addition, several studies have shown that the removal of amalgams is associated with improvement in these symptoms. Although the issue of amalgam safety is still under debate, the preponderance of evidence suggests that Hg exposure from dental amalgams may cause or contribute to many chronic conditions. Thus, consideration of Hg toxicity may be central to the effective clinical investigation of many chronic illnesses, particularly those involving fatigue and depression.”

– Geir Bjørklund

Reference

1. Kern JK, Geier DA, Bjørklund G, King PG, Homme KG, Haley BE, Sykes LK, Geier MR. Evidence supporting a link between dental amalgams and chronic illness, fatigue, depression, anxiety, and suicide. Neuro Endocrinol Lett 2014; 35: 537-552.

The Rise of the Antibiotic-Resistant Superbug

Infographic of the antibiotic-resistant diseases.

Zinc, Copper, and Autism Spectrum Disorder

Joint Research

Research indicates that children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) appear to be at risk for zinc (Zn) deficiency, copper (Cu) toxicity, and often disturbed metallothionein system functioning (1-4). Working with international researchers, the following is a summary of our work.

Li et al. (2014) investigated the serum levels of Zn and Cu in 60 Chinese children with ASD (48 boys, 12 girls) and a control group of 60 healthy sex-matched and age-matched individuals (2). The researchers also evaluated the autism severity using the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) score. The mean serum Zn levels and Zn/Cu ratio in the study were significantly lower in the ASD children compared with the control group (P<0.001). At the same, the serum Cu levels were significantly higher in the ASD children compared with the control group (P<0.001). It was in the study found a significant negative association between the Zn/Cu ratio and CARS scores (r=-0.345, P=0.007) (2).

Macedoni-Lukšič et al. (2015) determined the serum levels of Zn and Cu in a group of Slovenian children with ASD (N = 52, average age = 6.2 years) and a control group of children with other neurological disorders (N = 22, average age = 6.6 years), matched in terms of intellectual abilities (3). Compared to the control group, the ASD group had significantly elevated serum Cu/Zn ratio (95% confidence interval for children with ASD=1.86-2.26; 95% confidence interval for the control group=1.51-1.88) (3).

Crăciun et al. (2016) investigated the levels of Zn and Cu in whole blood, as well as the Cu/Zn ratio in a group of 28 Romanian ASD children. No significant difference in whole blood Cu was observed. However, Cu/Zn ratio was ~15 % (p = 0.008) higher in ASD children than that in the control ones. The results of the study may be indicative of Zn deficiency in ASD children (4).

In conclusion, our research suggests that providing Zn to ASD children may be an important component of a treatment protocol, especially in children with Zn deficiency (1-4). Mercury accumulation may occur as a cause or consequence of metallothionein dysfunction in ASD children, which may be one of the causes of Zn deficiency. Metallothioneins are proteins with important functions in metal metabolism and protection. It is important to monitor and follow the values for both Cu and Zn together during Zn therapy because these two trace elements are both antagonists in function, and essential for living cells (1).

– Geir Bjørklund

 

References

1. Bjørklund G. The role of zinc and copper in autism spectrum disorders. Acta Neurobiol Exp 2013; 73: 225–236.

2. Li SO, Wang JL, Bjørklund G, Zhao WN, Yin CH. Serum copper and zinc levels in individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Neuroreport 2014; 25: 1216-1220.

3. Macedoni-Lukšič M, Gosar D, Bjørklund G, Oražem J, Kodrič J, Lešnik-Musek P, Zupančič M, France-Štiglic A, Sešek-Briški A, Neubauer D, Osredkar J. Levels of metals in the blood and specific porphyrins in the urine in children with autism spectrum disorders. Biol Trace Elem Res 2015; 163: 2-10.

4. Crăciun EC, Bjørklund G, Tinkov AA, Urbina MA, Skalny AV, Rad F, Dronca E. Evaluation of whole blood zinc and copper levels in children with autism spectrum disorder. Metab Brain Dis 2016; 31: 887-890.

New Environmental Initiative in Semey, Kazakhstan: The Former Testing Site for the Soviet Union’s Nuclear Weapons

Council for Nutritional and Environmental Medicine (CONEM) has groups in different parts of the world. One of these is CONEM Kazakhstan Environmental Health and Safety Research Group. In June 2017, this group was established at the Semey State Medical University to promote environmental studies. Until 2007 Semey was known as Semipalatinsk. The Semipalatinsk Test Site was the primary testing venue for the Soviet Union’s nuclear weapons. It is located on the steppe in northeast Kazakhstan, south of the valley of the Irtysh River. The head of the CONEM group in Kazakhstan is associate professor Lyudmila Pivina, MD, PhD.