There seems to be a commonly held view in alt-med circles that many ills are due to heavy metal poisoning. It will probably not surprise many readers of this blog that Natural News pushes this view. There is a lot to look at on that page; in this post I’ll confine myself to examining the claims about the consequences of metal poisoning.
On aluminium, it is claimed that:
Aluminum lodged in your brain tissue can cause Alzheimer’s or clinical insanity.
I can’t find much to support this claim. According to this “some experts believe it plays a role in leading to the formation of Alzheimer-like neurofibrillary tangles”, which at best suggests that the jury is still out on a link between aluminium poisoning and Alzheimer’s. As for “cinical insanity”, the term is an oxymoron as insanity is not a clinical term but a legal one meaning that someone is not responsible for, or does not understand the consequences of, their actions.
On iron, it is claimed that:
Iron lodged in your heart tissue can cause heart disease.
According to this iron poisoning can cause:
Iron corrodes your intestinal lining and is a direct irritant to the stomach.
People with iron poisoning can have the following symptoms:
Dehydration and lethargy if not treated adequately
A child’s vomit or stool may be bloody.
Often, after supportive care, the gastrointestinal symptoms appear to improve 6-24 hours after their onset.
If profound poisoning is inadequately treated, shock and death can occur.
Not good but no mention of heart disease. Incidently, the most common cause of iron poisoning would appear to be overdosing on iron supplements.
On lead, it is claimed that:
Lead lodged in your bones can interfere with red blood cell production and even white blood cell production.
Well, that and a whole lot more – which has been known for many years. As a result lead has been largely eliminated from the environment by such measures as banning lead based paints and the use of lead tetra-ethyl as an antiknock agent in petrol, and replacing lead piping with copper. Unless you work with lead or lead compounds you are highly unlikely to develop lead poisoning.
On mercury, it is claimed that:
Mercury lodged in your brain can cause autism spectrum disorders.
This is a favourite amongst American antivaxxers, who claim that mercury compounds used as preservatives in vaccines causes autism. Two problems with this. First, if it were true we would expect to hear of cases of adult onset autism following mercury poisoning but I can’t find any evidence of any such cases.
Second, it is not actually true as the symptoms of mercury poisoning are quite different from the signs and symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Common symptoms of mercury poisoning include peripheral neuropathy (presenting as paresthesia or itching, burning or pain), skin discoloration (pink cheeks, fingertips and toes), swelling, and desquamation (shedding of skin).
Mercury is thought to inactivate S-adenosyl-methionine, which is necessary for catecholamine catabolism by catechol-o-methyl transferase. Due to the body’s inability to degrade catecholamines (e.g. Epinephrine) a person suffering from mercury poisoning may experience profuse sweating, tachycardia (persistently faster-than-normal heart beat), increased salivation, and hypertension (high blood pressure).
Affected children may show red cheeks, nose and lips, loss of hair, teeth, and nails, transient rashes, hypotonia (muscle weakness), and increased sensitivity to light. Other symptoms may include kidney dysfunction (e.g. Fanconi syndrome) or neuropsychiatric symptoms such as emotional lability, memory impairment, or insomnia.
Thus, the clinical presentation may resemble pheochromocytoma or Kawasaki disease.
What are some common signs of autism?
The hallmark feature of ASD is impaired social interaction. As early as infancy, a baby with ASD may be unresponsive to people or focus intently on one item to the exclusion of others for long periods of time. A child with ASD may appear to develop normally and then withdraw and become indifferent to social engagement.
Children with an ASD may fail to respond to their names and often avoid eye contact with other people. They have difficulty interpreting what others are thinking or feeling because they can’t understand social cues, such as tone of voice or facial expressions, and don’t watch other people’s faces for clues about appropriate behavior. They lack empathy.
Many children with an ASD engage in repetitive movements such as rocking and twirling, or in self-abusive behavior such as biting or head-banging. They also tend to start speaking later than other children and may refer to themselves by name instead of “I” or “me.” Children with an ASD don’t know how to play interactively with other children. Some speak in a sing-song voice about a narrow range of favorite topics, with little regard for the interests of the person to whom they are speaking.
Children with characteristics of an ASD may have co-occurring conditions, including Fragile X syndrome (which causes mental retardation), tuberous sclerosis, epileptic seizures, Tourette syndrome, learning disabilities, and attention deficit disorder. About 20 to 30 percent of children with an ASD develop epilepsy by the time they reach adulthood.
Where Natural News is right it is not original, where it is original it is not right. And sometimes it is neither original nor right. Not the best place to go for medical information.